Paradise Valley candidates discuss critiques of current municipal operations

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Local voters will go to the Paradise Valley polls Tuesday, Aug. 30 to elect three members to town council while also electing a mayor.

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins, who is running unopposed, is seeking re-election while four council candidates are seeking one of three seats. Paradise Valley council candidates are: Scott Moore, Julie Pace, Mark Stanton and Daran Wastchak.

To be elected at the primary, candidates must receive a majority of the total valid ballots cast while the town’s races will be consolidated with the county, state and federal races appearing on the same ballot and this year the municipality will not be holding an all-mail election, according to Town Clerk Duncan Miller.

In partnership with Cullum Homes and Rose, Moser & Allyn Public Relations, the Town of Paradise Valley Independent is hosting a town council candidate forum at The Village at Mountain Shadows from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11.

The forum will be moderated by North Valley News Editor Terrance Thornton and will feature opening statements, a debate of local topics that matter and an opportunity for audience involvement.

This week’s question-and-answer installment asks council candidates what their No. 1 critique of Town Hall is and, if elected, what they would do to correct that perceived municipal shortcoming.

This is what they had to say:

Julie Pace

What is your No. 1 critique of the municipal operations at the Town of Paradise Valley?

Julie Pace

Julie Pace

We are fortunate that our municipal operations serve our residents well. One item to enhance the quality of life that caused me to run for council is to improve the process to protect the mountains and prohibit dynamiting. This past year, our community faced a threat to the scenic mountain vistas important to our town residents, visitors and our wonderful resorts.

This issue recently arose because the town is confronted with some challenging lots that have never been built upon. Last summer, I successfully led residents against the 64-foot tall spec house high on Camelback Mountain.

A few months later a second project was proposed for the highest level on Camelback Mountain and included a 500-foot driveway scar across the mountain with a 300-foot long house on a 52-degree steep boulder field. The two projects would forever change the view of Camelback Mountain.

I approached the situation collaboratively and brought residents together to address the issues and bring meaningful solutions to the table. We observed a town process that could be improved upon to reduce conflict, ensure transparency, increase resident and stakeholder involvement, and obtain substantive and complete information.

The first avenue to address these extreme variance requests was the Board of Adjustment, but the board was not allowed to consider some of the residents’ concerns because the board is legally allowed to address only six factors before granting or denying variances.

The Board of Adjustment’s limited scope prevented it from considering the community’s concerns about safety from the use of dynamite in a boulder field high on Camelback Mountain. This limitation was not the board’s fault as safety is legally not part of the variance review.

This caused frustration for board members and residents regarding these two construction proposals. Residents’ only option to challenge a decision by the Board of Adjustment is to file a lawsuit.
The Hillside Committee’s concept review of some issues should occur before the Board of Adjustment action so that the board and applicants will have the benefit of the Hillside Committee input.

What would you do, if elected, to correct the shortcoming you believe exists?

I regularly serve as a facilitator and problem solver in my professional and civic life, and I will enhance the quality of life through modifying the town’s process by:

1. protecting the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town by prohibiting dynamiting our mountains;

2. moving Hillside Committee concept plan review for mountainside construction before variances are considered by the Board of Adjustment;

3. avoiding variance requests to the Board of Adjustment during August to give residents a greater opportunity to be informed and provide input;

4. expanding notice requirements when variances to the Hillside Building Ordinance are sought, which increases transparency and involvement of our residents;

5. enhancing the safety and security of residents both in construction and in living in our town;

6. addressing drainage, erosion and infrastructure, including the impact of new construction affecting others; and

7. upholding the spirit and intent of the Hillside Ordinance to respect our town’s heritage without any property tax.

These action items will help us enhance quality of life for everyone. I have the experience and passion to serve the residents regarding quality of life issues our Town wants to preserve, particularly protecting our Mountains and upholding the Hillside Ordinance.

Scott Moore

What is your No. 1 critique of the municipal operations at the Town of Paradise Valley?

While we have come a long way in communicating with our residents on key issues such as hillside development regulations, drafting a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, designing criteria for Visually Significant Corridors, and the other “quality-of-life initiatives,” I would like to see the town continue to focus on bringing our residents into the loop on all key issues affecting our community.

What would you do, if elected, to correct the shortcoming you believe exists?

Scott Moore

Scott Moore

Through my experience serving the town as a member of the Planning Commission, I find it very rewarding to see the same group of residents who attend almost every one of our Planning Commission meetings. Going forward, I would like to initiate a variety of ways to involve more of the town’s residents on key issues. As your Planning Commission representative, I was appointed to oversee the review and to help establish new provisions to our current hillside ordinance.

One of the first things we did was schedule a public forum at one of our council meetings so that we could hear from our residents on this issue. Many residents attended and offered suggestions they felt could improve on the current ordinance. It was a huge success. As your elected councilman, I will continue to make public participation and transparency a high priority.

Daran Wastchak

What is your No. 1 critique of the municipal operations at the Town of Paradise Valley?

Daran Wastchak

Daran Wastchak

I’m not running to join the Paradise Valley Town Council because I see great problems with the current or past councils or town management. On the contrary, having attended most of the town council meetings over the past year, I have been impressed with the leadership from the mayor and council and the professionalism of the town manager and other administrative staff.

However, the one area of improvement that needs to be addressed by the town is our lack of an overall strategic plan for Paradise Valley.

 

What would you do, if elected, to correct the shortcoming you believe exists?

Two years ago, I advocated strongly for a strategic plan for the Town that reflects the long-term priorities of not just the elected officials, but the residents of Paradise Valley. With a plan for where we want to go over the next 10 or so years, funding priorities, for example, can be confidently set for current budgets knowing how they will impact future priorities and budgets.

The police department has now created its own strategic plan, as has the Information Technology Department. Town staff has also started work on an overall strategic plan, including gathering input from town residents. These moves are a great start.  Having served as chairman of the strategic planning task force for the residential energy services network, a national nonprofit organization serving over 4,000 individuals and companies in the residential energy efficiency industry, I look forward to lending my experience to this effort.

As a member of the town council, I will make certain that the job gets finished and the final result is a strategic plan that ensures sound policy decisions and fiscal planning for Paradise Valley.

Mark Stanton

What is your No. 1 critique of the municipal operations at the Town of Paradise Valley?

Mark Stanton

Mark Stanton

The Town of Paradise Valley has a well-run municipal operation. The staff are professional, skilled and committed. As with any governmental organization, there are processes and procedures that must be maintained. However, the town staff and leadership are always looking at ways to improve through training, innovation, adopting best practices from other municipalities, and most importantly, listening to input from town residents.

This is municipal government and it will never be perfect, but the people who are working daily to provide public services that support our town are always looking at ways to improve quality and customer service.

What would you do, if elected, to correct the shortcoming you believe exists?

As a member of the town council, I will continue to encourage improvement and ideas that will help enhance the municipal operations for our residents. This includes working toward simplifying procedures to reduce permitting and other administrative processes in an effort to increase customer service and satisfaction.

Additionally, I will look at ways to create better communicate between the Town and its residents on issues and opportunities as well as maintaining government transparency and accountability.

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