Gilbert Town Council approves teen violence subcommittee after heated debate

Jan 10, 2024, 4:25 AM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 9:45 am

PHOENIX — The Gilbert Town Council unanimously voted to create a new subcommittee to deal with the spike in teen violence during a Tuesday meeting.

However, heated debate preceded the final vote. It began after Councilmember Kathy Tilque proposed the work of dealing with teen violence be added to the Community Engagement Task Force.

“First, we would have to expand their scope of work to include teen violence, expand the number of task members to a total of 11,” Tilque said. “We could add advisory positions from each school district school interested in participating.”

A subcommittee has only three task members, which means the rest of the Council may not be able to participate in teen violence solutions, she added.

Councilmember Chuck Bongiovanni strongly disagreed with her proposal. He was one of three Councilmembers with a small orange candle in front of their seats. Councilmembers Jim Torgeson and Scott Anderson also had memorial candles.

Why the Gilbert Town Council meeting got heated

“I’d like to move ahead with a subcommittee focused just on this issue,” Councilmember Chuck Bongiovanni said. He called for immediate action and said he didn’t want to have to wait two weeks for the wheels of bureaucracy to churn out a solution.

Mayor Brigette Peterson, however, said a task force may have fewer restrictions than a Council subcommittee. Her stance sparked rebuttals from both Torgeson and Bongiovanni, who argued a subcommittee would be able to more effectively tackle teen violence than a task force that might sideline it in favor of other topics.

“I can’t believe we’re having a turf war up here,” Bongiovanni said. “It’s insane.”

The room, which was full of people wearing orange shirts that said #JusticeforPrestonLord, erupted in applause — even though Vice Mayor Scott Anderson previously asked the audience not to clap.

At one point of the debate, a member of the audience called out that there wasn’t enough urgency. Peterson agreed and the vote quickly followed suit.

Bongiovanni, Torgeson and Anderson agreed to serve on the teen violence subcommittee. They have until the next Gilbert Town Council meeting on Jan. 23 to hammer out how the subcommittee will work.

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Gilbert Town Council approves teen violence subcommittee after heated debate