GILBERT, AZ — Gilbert is an East Valley snapshot of family, faith, and community.
"They are focused on community and focused on making everyone feel included," said Germany Hall, a college student taking pictures of downtown Wednesday.
A form of compassionate conservatism, "integrity, truth, character, and God," voters like Heather Murray say candidates must possess if they want her vote.
There are not many places in the Valley more conservative than Congressional District 5, the home of Congressman Andy Biggs. Seeking his fourth term in office in November, the Congressman is used to Democratic challengers.
This year he will also face a conservative. Longtime Republican Clint Smith changed his party affiliation to Independent in 2021. With no fanfare, Smith collected nearly 8,000 signatures from independent voters to capture a spot on the November ballot.
"When we made the decision, I knew I could not do it within the party," Smith said. "I was not happy with the Republican party in Arizona or nationally and the only way to go about this was [as] an Independent."
Clint Smith says he voted for Biggs in 2020. But the Congressman's persistence in claiming that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and his defense of the January 6 rioters changed his mind.
"This is worse than I thought. The challenges to the integrity of the election and whether it was stolen and all that stuff leading up to that was very troubling to me," Smith said. Smith also believes Biggs' refusal to vote for COVID relief and Infrastructure put him at odds with the district.
Clint Smith is no stranger when it comes to taking on the establishment. In 2011, he was the co-chair in the successful campaign to recall State Senator Russell Pearce. At the time, Pearce was considered by many to be the most powerful lawmaker in Arizona. Smith knows defeating Biggs will be difficult, but not impossible. "I've had all kinds of discussions with all kinds of people from all the parties and no party and everybody I talk to with few exceptions says I'm tired of this and I just want something to get done."
Democratic challenger Javier Ramos of Queen Creek believes Biggs is vulnerable. Two years ago, Democratic challenger Joan Greene won 41% of the vote. Ramos believes he will be able to build off that. Ramos said he did call Clint Smith to welcome him into the race.
ABC15 has reached out to Congressman Biggs for comment.