Paradise Valley Town Council candidates talk quality of life initiatives

TPV Election Art -- Muni BuildingLocal voters will go to Paradise Valley polling locations Tuesday, Aug. 30 to elect a mayor and three members of town council.

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, according to Town Clerk Duncan Miller.

Mr. Miller says 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.

This week’s question-and-answer offering seeks to better understand what these candidates believe to be the biggest threat against the esteemed quality of life in the

Town of Paradise Valley and what they intend to do about it, if elected. This is what they had to say:

Daran Wastchak

•What do you believe to be the biggest threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Daran Wastchak

Daran Wastchak

Unfortunately, the biggest threat to quality of life in Paradise Valley was just given protection and encouragement by a new state law that prevents Paradise Valley from regulating short-term rental properties.

The house next door to me recently sold and in typical Paradise Valley fashion, will be torn down and a new “second home” built in its place. If I’m lucky, the house will remain vacant between the occasional visits by the new owners. If my luck is not so good, we will be cursed by a revolving door of short-term renters who have no attachment to the house, the neighborhood, or Paradise Valley.

My daughters and I want permanent neighbors, not a new set of neighbors every couple weeks and the inevitable rowdy group of people who are bound to be renters on occasion. This is not why we moved to Paradise Valley over 10 years ago. It’s not why any of us moved to Paradise Valley, but the threat to my quality of life, our Town’s quality of life, is real.

•As an elected leader, what steps would you take to resolve that issue?

As a member of the Paradise Valley Town Council, I intend to do everything I can to push back against state preemptions of our town’s right to preserve and protect Paradise Valley’s quality of life.

While repeal may not be likely, I intend to work closely with our Town’s Government Affairs Director and our representatives in the State Legislature to build a case for changes to the new state law.

For maximum effect, our efforts must be coordinated with other municipalities, Scottsdale in particular. Lastly, we should not forget that the governor is also a resident of Paradise Valley. We’re all just one house sale away from a short-term rental next door, even the governor.

Mark Stanton

•What do you believe to be the biggest threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Mark Stanton

Mark Stanton

The biggest long-term challenge to our quality of life is maintaining local control for our unique community, which has been successfully built on a history of small government, financial stability and robust community involvement.

The Arizona Legislature is increasingly trying to tell us what is best for Paradise Valley and many legislators have no local government experience.

For example, Paradise Valley has embraced innovative public safety efforts, including photo enforcement technology, a unique funding model with the city of Phoenix for first responders and fire protection and innovative leadership including passing of a pioneer drone ordinance. All of these efforts have either been challenged or overturned by the Arizona Legislature.

I am proud that two of our Town Council members have decided to run for the State Legislature. Their perspective will hopefully bring much needed common sense that will allow Arizona cities and towns to govern their communities as they see fit.

•As an elected leader, what steps would you take to resolve that issue?

As one of the newest members of Paradise Valley Town Council, I will continue to bring my knowledge and experience to work with the Arizona Legislature and the League of Cities and Towns to maintain the foundation of local control, small government, community-based leadership and innovation for which Paradise Valley has become known.

Insuring that we are able to maintain our ability to manage and govern our community as we see fit will be one of my top priorities in supporting the quality of life in Paradise Valley.

Julie Pace

•What do you believe to be the biggest threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

Julie Pace

Julie Pace

One of the primary quality of life reasons that caused me to run for council was to protect the mountains and prohibit dynamiting the mountains.

Last summer I successfully led residents in our community against the 64-foot-high structure that was proposed to be built high up on Camelback Mountain. The applicant sought five significant variances to the Hillside Building Ordinance for a spec house.

The project would have changed forever the view of Camelback Mountain.
Our entire community was awakened to the real threat to the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town. It caused many neighbors to become actively involved and learn the process that could allow such extreme projects that deviate so materially from the spirit and intent of the Hillside Building Ordinance.

Within six months of defeating the first proposal, a second project was proposed at a different location at 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 slope.

Our entire community again successfully stood together against the variances and proposed dynamiting. I earned the nickname “No Blast Julie.”

The town is currently experiencing a transformation of rebuilding. Engineers, builders, and architects bring much needed expertise to the future plans of our town, but we also need what I can contribute, which is a perspective of the citizens to the town process and quality of life issues our town wants to preserve, particularly protecting our Mountains and upholding the Hillside Ordinance.

•As an elected leader, what steps would you take to resolve that issue?

I am a fourth generation Arizonan who will work to set the pace on preserving quality of life issues by protecting the scenic beauty and mountain vistas unique to our town by prohibiting dynamiting our mountains; expanding notice requirements when variances to the Hillside Building Ordinance are sought, which increases transparency to and involvement of our residents, avoiding variance requests to the Board of Adjustment in August to give residents an opportunity to be informed and provide input; moving Hillside Committee concept plan review for mountainside construction before variances are considered by the Board of Adjustment; enhancing the safety and security of residents both in construction and in living in our town; addressing drainage, erosion and infrastructure; upholding the spirit and intent of the Hillside Ordinance to respect our town’s Heritage; and adopting a town ethics and disclosure policy.

Each of these actions will help us enhance quality of life for all our residents and visitors from around the world. Together we need to exercise responsible and vigilant stewardship of the mountains and low density residential character that make Paradise Valley unique.

Scott Moore

•What do you believe to be the biggest threat to the quality of life in the Town of Paradise Valley?

I believe the biggest threat we face is the prospect of losing our community’s unique residential character. Some of those unique qualities that I want to preserve are:

  • Public safety and protecting the well-being of our citizens;
  • Ensuring responsible resort development that is consistent with the character of the community;
  • Protecting our views and hillsides through rigorous enforcement of our hillside ordinances;
  • Ensuring fiscal responsibility and preventing a property tax from ever being enacted.

If we can address these four issues in a responsible manner, we can ensure that the exceptional quality of life we’ve created in Paradise Valley continues for future generations.

My experience as a planning commissioner, including working on the Hillside Code Quality of Life initiative, provides me with the experience and perspective to do just that.

•As an elected leader, what steps would you take to resolve that issue?

Our town government has done an exceptional job over the years of preserving what makes Paradise Valley special, but there’s still more work to be done.

Scott Moore

Scott Moore

We must be diligent in ensuring that we provide our police and fire departments with the resources they need to keep us safe. We must make sure we hold developers accountable for creation of only the highest quality resort and residential development.

Specific to the hillsides, with nothing but the most challenging lots left to be developed, we must make sure we’re prepared to thoroughly understand the best way to engineer the sites, mitigate drainage and flooding challenges in the most effective way and minimize cutting into Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain.

And, as a town council member, I and my colleagues must remain committed to our town’s principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government, so that we ensure our town never requires a property tax increase. If we can accomplish all of these goals, we will ensure that Paradise Valley continues to enjoy the exceptional quality of life that makes it such a great place to live.

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