Paradise Valley Town Council candidates talk aftermath of pandemic on essential tourism industry

Posted 7/24/20

As Paradise Valley voters consider who to cast their ballots for this summer, the four Town Council candidates discuss the topic of tourism in the final Independent Newsmedia question-and-answer …

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Paradise Valley Town Council candidates talk aftermath of pandemic on essential tourism industry

Posted

As Paradise Valley voters consider who to cast their ballots for this summer, the four Town Council candidates discuss the topic of tourism in the final Independent Newsmedia question-and-answer installment.

Tourism is a key contributor to the Town of Paradise Valley’s bottom line, as a handful of world-class resorts funnel millions through tax revenue each year to municipal coffers.

Incumbents Scott Moore, Julie Pace and Mark Stanton, along with new-comer Jonathan Wainwright, are vying for three open seats on the Town Council at the Aug. 4 primary election.

The August election is being conducted by mail-in ballots, or voters can go to any voting center to cast their ballot.

To learn your voters status or find a voting center, go to beballotready.vote.

Read below to gain an understanding of how each candidate’s position on tourism amid a COVID-19 world.

Jonathan Wainwright

•How do you think Paradise Valley can evolve to survive the global pandemic of 2020?

We should not minimize the impact of COVID-19 on public health or the global economy. It is, however, important to recognize that this seemingly endless pandemic will eventually come to an end. Hopefully, a vaccine will be developed soon or in a less desirable case herd immunity may eventually be obtained.

We need to take whatever steps are necessary to beat this virus and protect the most vulnerable, because the goal is not to simply evolve to survive, the goal is to return to normal as a town and as a country. However, as Winston Churchill noted “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Therefore, we should analyze our successes and failures in dealing with COVID-19, in order to better confront this crisis and other major challenges that occur in the future.

Paradise Valley has an excellent history of limited government and fiscal restraint. As we adapt to major revenue shortfalls, we should give credit to our town founders who insisted that town government live within its means and put cash aside for times such as these. Thank goodness they did, so town services will not have to be severely interrupted.

•If you are elected to Town Council, how will you champion tourism?

It is important to recognize that government does not create success in the private sector. The private sector through investment, risk taking, and creativity creates their own success or failure. This includes the tourism industry. Government can only provide an environment that makes their success viable. Fortunately, what is good for our residents is also good for our tourist industry. A top concern for visitors is personal safety. By fully funding our police and insisting on continued professionalism from our law enforcement officers, visitors and citizens will benefit. Low taxes, maintaining and upgrading infrastructure and reducing unnecessary regulations is again, beneficial to homeowners, resorts and visitors alike.

•What makes Paradise Valley a special place for people to visit and how can that message be translated during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

Visitors from across the country or overseas find Paradise Valley and Arizona to be an exotic destination and vastly different from their home. Our climate, world class resorts, beautiful Sonoran Desert and outstanding mountain views provide tourists with a unique experience. When my wife and I host friends and family from around the world, our visitors go out of their way to remind us what a beautiful and unique place we live in. As for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, town government should work with our resort partners and others to identify temporary changes to the Town Code to help ensure the safety of our visitors and the health of our resort industry.

•When you think about the future of Paradise Valley tourism, how do you plan to build that vision through public policy?

Municipal public policy in some parts of the country are undergoing remarkable, and I would argue disturbing changes. Make no mistake, our community can imitate those changes and share in the misery of cities such as Portland, Seattle or Minneapolis --- along with their upscale suburbs --- or we can continue with the same public policies that have proven to be successful in the past.

There are clear indications that the luxury home market in our area is already benefiting from citizens fleeing the misguided policies of some cities and in a post-COVID-19 economy, communities that raise taxes on its citizens, defund the police and turn a blind eye to mob destruction of businesses or public property will be at a competitive disadvantage, that will result in an exodus of both tourists and residents. I take no joy in their self-inflicted wounds and would encourage those communities to rethink some of their decisions.

If elected, I will embrace public policies that provide for a safe, welcoming and friendly environment for our visitors and residents alike. In addition, I am supportive of the efforts of our mayor and Arizona State Senator Kate Brophy McGee to restore the integrity of single-family zoning as it relates to VRBOs. The current total disregard for our zoning regulation puts commercial resorts at a disadvantage as it relates to health, safety and bed taxes. I want to thank readers for taking the time review my answers.

By making that effort, you have shown yourself to be an informed voter. As a candidate I can ask for nothing more. For other questions or concerns please go to my campaign website wainwrightforpvcouncl.com or contact me at jonwain2020@gmail.com.

Scott Moore

•How do you think Paradise Valley can evolve to survive the global pandemic of 2020?

Paradise Valley is fortunate to have a unique residential character with large-lot homes and a spread-out low-density environment, with few public gathering spaces. As such, the impact on the town is mostly financial, particularly with impacts to the tourism industry and our resorts. Without a local property tax --- something I’ve fought to prevent --- we have been very proactive in ensuring the town’s long-term fiscal stability.

Thanks to years of prudent planning we’re well-positioned to weather the fiscal impact. We are also working proactively with the local resort industry to provide them with any tools they need to improve their overall financial picture during the pandemic. So, we are doing the right things, we just need to stay the course.

•If you are re-elected to Town Council, how will you champion tourism?

I will continue to support the positive impact the tourism industry has in our community by continuing our efforts to ensure our resorts are positioned as best as possible to make it through the pandemic and enjoy a strong future once the public health crisis is resolved. For the past two years as council liaison, I served as a voting member of the Board of Directors for our Paradise Valley tourism marketing organization.

With the support of my fellow colleagues, we will continue to focus on our resorts in a number of important ways and those efforts are more important than ever before. One example I voted for recently was passing legislation that is affording some leniency in certain cases to our zoning ordinance in the wake of the pandemic, which allows our resorts and places of worship additional signage and messaging during these unprecedented times.

•What makes Paradise Valley a special place for people to visit and how can that message be translated during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

There are many aspects unique to Paradise Valley that remain unchanged during this very unfortunate pandemic. Our world-class resorts are truly an incredible place to visit and an oasis in the Sonoran Desert that is unique to anywhere else in the world. Our message focuses on our natural beauty, wide open spaces and responsibly operated resorts that prioritizes public health and safety. Paradise Valley was ranked in 2019 as the safest city in Arizona. Our low crime, iconic mountains, trails and low-density residential neighborhoods make our town a truly special place to experience even during these difficult times.

•When you think about the future of Paradise Valley tourism, how do you plan to build that vision through public policy?

Again, the key is to listen to the leaders of our tourism industry and work with them proactively to help meet their needs during the pandemic and emerge stronger on the other side. It’s an ongoing process that includes promoting responsible and appropriate growth, providing them with tools to help them weather the pandemic and continuing to promote our community nationally and worldwide.

Julie Pace

•How do you think Paradise Valley can evolve to survive the global pandemic of 2020?

Together our town and its residents will be strong coming out of the pandemic. Many factors are in our town’s favor. We are a low density community in the Sun Belt surrounded by iconic mountains. Our residents are educated, caring and pay attention to best practices to keep themselves and their families safe. We are a town full of business savvy individuals who can adapt to changing market conditions and who are creative to think outside the box to achieve solutions and build toward the future. And, our Town Council and town manager are fiscally conservative and committed to no property tax.

The town has done an excellent job of facilitating public participation in town affairs and in continuing to provide town services during the COVID pandemic.
The leadership of Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner and the professionalism of Town Manager Jill Kiemach and other town employees deserves the praise and appreciation of town residents.

The first priority is for the town’s operations to be safe for residents and staff. We need to continue efficient and effective remote operations when possible so that the public and staff are not exposed at Town Hall.

Second, the town continues and enhances the use of technology to make citizen participation and input into town decision-making convenient and meaningful.

Third, as part of our community outreach efforts the town and its concierge police department and wonderful police volunteers operate helpful programs such as the You Are Not Alone (YANA) program. The daily welfare check calls to residents who sign up for YANA save lives and are an important contact. This service is even more important during COVID.

Also, residents should sanitize at their homes and in vehicles, as well as security of the home. I chaired the ACOPS Committee for two years and our team members worked, and the committee continues to work under Councilmember Ellen Andeen’s leadership, to educate residents about completing a home security review, locking their doors, shutting garage doors, having cameras, and setting alarms to “stay” if you are in the home, or “away” if you leave your home.

•If you are elected to Town Council, how will you champion tourism?

The success of our existing world-class resorts is crucial and the resorts provide 40% of our town’s revenues. We are a town with no property tax.
The business traveler and niche convention business, as well as the return of international travel, is critical to resorts returning to normalcy. It is important that the tourism industry continues to work to make travelers confident in being able to travel and to do so in a safe and clean environment in the air, on the road and upon arrival to an outstanding resort.

We, as residents, can do our part by wearing face masks in public to minimize the spread of COVID. I, along with thousands in the business community, are advocating the message that “Wearing a Mask, Saves the Economy and Lives.” It is as simple as that.

Our mayor and Town Councilmembers are in regular communications with the managers of the resorts to receive their input and assist when we can. We have supported changes to allow flexibility to enable the resorts to implement physical distancing. We have advocated at the governor’s office and the legislature for practical and logical solutions to address the safety and health of visitors, while fostering opportunities for resorts to continue to operate in highly sanitized and secure ways.

We have raised the alarm about short-term rentals and their general lack of industry standards and financial commitment to safety and security. Short-term rentals are direct competition to resorts and adversely intrude into our town’s neighborhoods. I, and others, are working hard to oppose the current, unregulated proliferation of short-term rentals and party houses that are ruining neighborhoods and can decimate our town if we do not fight to protect what is special about our community.

Short-term rentals do not commit resources to sanitation standards, compliance with OSHA, or security, and have no on-site management to deal with issues that arise; whereas, our world-class resorts do commit these resources and are available 24 hours, seven days a week to address visitor needs and surrounding neighborhoods, if issues arise.

I also support quality of life by balancing the development interests of the resorts with the low density, single-family residential character of our Town’s heritage, while fostering good neighborly relations between resorts, visitors and residents.

•What makes Paradise Valley a special place for people to visit and how can that message be translated during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

Preserving the quality of life of Paradise Valley helps make Paradise Valley a fantastic place for visitors and our residents. Our mountain views and our low density, high quality residential character define our town and add to the ambiance that makes Paradise Valley an attractive and unique place for visitors.

We have no unsightly telephone or electricity poles so visual clutter has been virtually eliminated so everyone can enjoy views of the mountains.

We need to fight to keep this a special place for residents and in order for our town to also be a special place for people to visit. We all must work together to preserve the paradise in Paradise Valley.

Paradise Valley’s lower density is an attractive place to visit for people who want a change of scenery and who want to get away from higher density areas in California, the Midwest and the East Coast. Our resorts and the town promote the low density, scenic views, and quality resort experiences available in safe and clean environments.

Our town participates in and supports the first-class Experience Scottsdale tourism promotion program. Experience Scottsdale is an excellent group that markets our town resorts for tourism and helps build a positive and excellent brand for Paradise Valley resorts.

•When you think about the future of Paradise Valley tourism, how do you plan to build that vision through public policy?

Preserving the quality of life for residents and protecting our iconic mountains in Paradise Valley is key to promoting tourism. I stand against high density and encroachment of commercialization and retail into our town. I fight to preserve our town’s heritage, and I have made a difference.

This is a critical time as we are updating our town’s General Plan at a time when our town is going through extensive redevelopment of older homes, experiencing increasing development pressures to increase density and eliminate open space, and address businesses continuing to try and open in our town’s residential neighborhoods.

Our town is 100% residential streets. Think about that, as that is rare. We have to be concerned about reducing cross-through traffic. We also have to address safety if vehicles break down or traffic stops occur by officers, as we have no shoulders on our roads since they are all residential streets.

We want to keep our landscaped desert medians that provide open space and desert ambiance that we all enjoy. I took the initiative to fight to maintain the islands with desert plants and the periodic center turn lanes on McDonald, rather than having them narrowed, eliminated or removed.

And, as a town, we have to ensure our Hillside Code and Safety Improvement Plans are complied with to preserve what Senator Barry Goldwater and others fought for many years ago to protect our mountains for this generation and future generations.

I am known to be the canary in the coal mine when I sense the potential threat to our mountains or quality of life. I have and will continue to energize the community when residents need to be aware and become engaged to protect the town we all love.

Mark Stanton

•How do you think Paradise Valley can evolve to survive the global pandemic of 2020?

The Paradise Valley town staff, under direction of Town Manager Jill Keimach, has shown quick response in adjusting town operations to a virtual working environment, while still providing the highest level of customer service to residents under the circumstances.

The Town Council has been united in continuing management of town business using technology to maintain transparent and consistent access to the public policy decision-making process.

Paramount to surviving the pandemic is the diligent focus of town staff and council on managing the town finances and budget. Doug Allen, our town chief financial officer, and his team have been nimble and attentive to managing the budget process during the pandemic and remain proactive in working with all Town Departments in the financial management of public resources.

The town is taking all steps and efforts to survive the pandemic, with an emphasis on adhering to public health guidelines and a focus on staff and public safety.

•If you are elected to Town Council, how will you champion tourism?

Tourism is vital to our economy and the quality of life in Paradise Valley. I am a champion for tourism and have spent a good part of my career promoting tourism and hospitality in Arizona. In fact, I was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer to serve as the deputy director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, managing the marketing and promotion of Arizona tourism domestically and internationally.

In addition, I have served as the Town Council Liaison for Experience Scottsdale, the destination marketing organization (DMO) that promotes tourism in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. I believe that Experience Scottsdale is one of the most effective DMOs in the country. They have proven to be a valuable, accountable and long-term partner in driving tourism in Paradise Valley.

If re-elected, I will continue to be a champion for our world-class resorts and continue supporting strong engagement with Experience Scottsdale to promote Paradise Valley as a top-tier international travel destination.

•What makes Paradise Valley a special place for people to visit and how can that message be translated during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

Paradise Valley is a sought-after destination for world travelers. The exclusive atmosphere, stunning natural scenery, convenient location and our world-class resorts help define a remarkable tourism experience and hospitality brand.

The message to promote our amazing tourism offerings is channeled through creative and data-driven marketing via our valued partnership with Experience Scottsdale and by each of our amazing world-class resorts that we enjoy in Paradise Valley.

Equally, the warm and welcoming nature of our town residents and our hospitality partners support the important message that Paradise Valley tourism is open for business and respectful of people’s health and safety as we make our way through the pandemic.

•When you think about the future of Paradise Valley tourism, how do you plan to build that vision through public policy?

As a longtime champion of tourism, I support public policy decisions that help encourage and engage our tourism partners while providing the highest level of quality of life for our residents.

I believe tourism is the window for economic development for the state of Arizona, more specifically, a visitor to Paradise Valley stays in one of our wonderful resorts, may consider buying a home in the town and perhaps relocating or starting a business in the Valley and that has a positive impact on our economy.

Keeping a limited government model, supporting our valued resort stakeholder partners, and engaging in proactive, professional tourism promotion and marketing is the pathway for the future of tourism in Paradise Valley.

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