Plenge: voters decide on Town of Paradise Valley’s fate

The Town of Paradise Valley was incorporated in 1961 by people who shared a preference for a low density residential community. They believed that there were enough grocery stores and restaurants etc. nearby to satisfy the need for more commercial facilities. They preferred an open space style of living. Those early residents eschewed all unnecessary government interference including property taxes. Fifty-five years later, few of those founding fathers still live in the Town of Paradise Valley.

Early Town Council members lived by the PV golden rule of low density residences. They could not have been elected on any platform. Most of those who volunteered to serve on the Town Council spent almost no money on any kind of campaign and they ran FOR seats and not AGAINST anyone else. There were no party affiliations, no campaign signs and no solicitations for contributions.

The seven who were elected for two-year terms chose one from among them to chair the meetings and be the Mayor. The Council then (and now) hired a Town Manager to manage the Town on a day to day basis and the Mayor and Council (then and now) functioned as a Board of Directors.

Over the past five decades, that original philosophy has evolved, for better or for worse. Today, instead of residents volunteering to serve in unpaid capacities on the Town Council, we have competitive campaigns. Now, instead of elected Council members asking one of their peers to be the Mayor and chair the meetings, we have had an expensive campaign for that position financed by money from outside developers and others. At the first election under the new system, two candidates spent almost $100,000 in a sometimes bitter battle to be Mayor.

Paradise Valley politics was born.

In this election cycle, we have no choice for mayor… no choice either by the residents or through our elected Council members. Whether a mayoral candidate is good or bad is beside the point. Once someone has declared his or her intention to seek the office and has de facto declared a willingness to ask for thousands of dollars from vested interests to do so, it is unlikely that a resident who sees the job as a civic duty will enter the race.

Another significant change took place early this year when the current Council approved a high density project which will include 258 residential structures on 61 acres. Some will be multi-family and multi-story ala Scottsdale, to be augmented later with commercial structures on a contiguous 12 acres. The motivation was primarily tax revenue.

This is the new Town of Paradise Valley. Whether it is good or bad, it is up to voters to decide.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Plenge is a resident of Town of Paradise Valley.

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