Syms: concurrent roles not worth legal distraction in Paradise Valley

With the promise of a New Year ahead of us, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the many great things our community has accomplished over the years to improve the quality of life here in Paradise Valley. I am proud of the work of our town council, staff and many citizen volunteers who are critical to our success.

Maria Syms

When my husband Mark and I decided to settle in Paradise Valley more than 15 years ago, we fell in love with the beautiful desert vistas and the warmth and friendship of our neighbors. We knew we had found the place to raise our family and I proudly say that our three children have known no other home.

One of the most unique aspects of Paradise Valley is that it is a largely volunteer driven town, founded by Sen. Barry Goldwater, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Justice William Rehnquist, among other great leaders, who recognized the need to preserve our self determination and rugged individualism free from government interference.

We can all be proud of our town’s history and strong corps of citizen volunteers. When Mayor Ed Lowery asked me to join the town Planning Commission in 2003, I was honored to be a part of this effort to improve the quality of our town. During my 13 years of service as a Planning Commissioner and later chair and most recently as a town councilmember and chair of the Advisory Committee on Public Safety, I have remained committed to our founding principles and worked hard to balance them with measured progress.

I am proud of our work as a council and we are now positioned to be a municipal leader in our state for fiscal responsibility, public safety, desert beauty and most important, neighbors who are engaged and care about maintaining our town as the jewel of the southwest. I am grateful to my fellow councilmembers, town volunteers and staff for your leadership over the years in this regard.

As I have previously expressed, it has always been my intention to serve our residents through the balance of my four-year term on the town council and I sought personal legal council during the campaign regarding this issue.

The Arizona Constitution states that a member of the Legislature may not be employed by the state, county, city or town but this prohibition does not extend to school board members. I was informed that because PV town councilmembers are unpaid, volunteers for the town, similar to elected school board members, I could serve in both capacities.

Following the election, I have had access to additional legal counsel on the topic. The unique circumstance of serving concurrently as a volunteer, unpaid town councilmember and state representative has never been specifically addressed by case law or statute. A clear determination will only occur if the issue is litigated in court. I do not want this legal question to be a distraction from the important upcoming work of the council or my work as your state representative.

I have therefore humbly and with enormous gratitude to the people of Paradise Valley, tendered my resignation from the town council.

I appreciate the town’s support as I have prepared for my upcoming role as your state representative. I will work hard every day for Paradise Valley and all my constituents in LD28 at the state level and I am confident my experience as a 13-year town volunteer will serve me well in that capacity.

Thank you for your support and I remain at the ready to assist the new Council and our residents in any way I can. I wish the Town, you and your family all the best for a happy and successful 2017!

Editor’s note: Ms. Syms is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives and is a Town of Paradise Valley resident

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