Hudson Catholic High alum elected new mayor of Gilbert, Ariz.

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By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Former Hudson and Marlborough resident, now Mayor Brigette Peterson of Gilbert, Ariz.
Former Hudson and Marlborough resident, now Mayor Brigette Peterson of Gilbert, Ariz.
Photo/Elaine Kessler Photography

Hudson/Marlborough – On Jan. 12, while New Englanders endured a typically cold winter, Massachusetts native Brigette Peterson got sworn in as the new mayor of Gilbert, Ariz. A 1982 graduate of now-closed Hudson Catholic High (HCH), her bond with alumni continues as an Arizona resident since 1995.

“They’re still friends and my connections to home,” she said of her alma mater’s alumni.

 

Emerging in the community

HCH’s enrollment was mostly students from Hudson and Marlborough. Peterson grew up with schoolmates in both communities. 

“I went to public elementary schools evenly between Hudson and Marlborough,” she explained.

While an eighth-grader in Marlborough, she chose to attend HCH the following year because its enrollment was smaller than area public schools. At HCH, she tried out for cheerleading and successfully joined the squad. As a Key Club member, she got involved with organizing school activities such as homecoming weekend.

“I loved that everybody knew each other,” she recalled. “I was an introvert and it helped me come out of my shell. I wouldn’t have done all the things in a public high school that I did at HCH.”

 

Discovering a preferable climate

From 1985 to 1995, Peterson worked for Raytheon at its Marlborough, Sudbury and Wayland facilities. While in Wayland, she met her now-husband, Mark. They married in 1995. Also in ’95, Raytheon sent her on a five-week assignment to Hawaii.

“It was in the middle of winter – the end of January and the whole month of February,” she recounted. “I went back to Massachusetts, realizing that I didn’t want to live in cold weather anymore.”

Seeking a preferable climate in regions with potential growth, she requested information from chambers of commerce in Arizona, Nevada and Texas. 

“Arizona won,” she declared. “Everything we learned about Arizona fit our personalities best.”

 

Taking the lead

Brigette Peterson (center) gets sworn in as mayor of Gilbert, Ariz., as her husband Mark watches and Town Clerk Chaveli Herrera holds the mic.
Brigette Peterson (center) gets sworn in as mayor of Gilbert, Ariz., as her husband Mark watches and Town Clerk Chaveli Herrera holds the mic.
Photo/submitted

As a community volunteer, Peterson participated in a program of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce Foundation called Gilbert Leadership. The nearly yearlong program is designed to further develop town leaders. 

“It taught me as much about the town of Gilbert as it did about myself and where I could fit into different areas within my community,” she relayed.

Beginning in 2000, she served on Gilbert’s Planning Commission for 14 years. In 2014, she got elected to the Town Council. Reelected for a second four-year term, she resigned in March 2020 to run for mayor.

Although Peterson previously took multiple oaths of office, she became particularly emotional during this inaugural ceremony.

“It really hit me that I was chosen by the residents to serve them as their mayor,” she shared. “Gilbert is a very kind, family-friendly, faith-based community. As we grow, it continues to stay that way. We have chosen to stay a town versus becoming a city because of that feeling.”

When the Petersons moved to Gilbert in 1995, the population was approximately 55,000. Now, it’s about 262,000. 

In the mayoral race, she collected 70,426 votes; her opponent got 53,121. Turnout was 85.45%

 

Staying connected 

Along the way, Peterson stays connected with her Hudson and Marlborough roots.

She keeps in touch with Bruce Cassie, a friend since middle school. In 2010, he created the Facebook group known as “The Rock (Marlboro Ma.).” Now boasting over 5,000 members, the group shares photos and memories of the painted rock located at the Marlborough-Hudson border. Peterson accepted his invitation to be a group administrator.

“I’m still an admin,” she noted.

Peterson also helped organize HCH reunions that she attended in 1998, 2008 and 2013. During the pandemic, she meets with alumni via Zoom. 

She’s looking forward to her HCH 40-year reunion in 2022 – as long as it doesn’t occur during a particular season.

“I don’t miss the winters,” she added.