Paradise Valley Town Council candidates talk civil rights, the Black Lives Matter movement and how to engage local youth

Posted 6/24/20

Paradise Valley Town Council candidates are asked their thoughts about civil rights and political movements --- ranging from gay rights to the Black Lives Matter movement --- happening now across the …

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Paradise Valley Town Council candidates talk civil rights, the Black Lives Matter movement and how to engage local youth

Posted

Paradise Valley Town Council candidates are asked their thoughts about civil rights and political movements --- ranging from gay rights to the Black Lives Matter movement --- happening now across the country in the latest Q&A series provided by Independent Newsmedia.

Those seeking election in the Aug. 4 primary election are incumbents Scott Moore, Julie Pace and Mark Stanton --- and newcomer Jonathan Wainwright --- who has been a longtime town volunteer. There are three seats to be filled.

Town Council members serve four-year terms, while the mayor serves a two-year term.

Leading up to the August primary, Independent Newsmedia is providing a question-and-answer series for residents to better understand the perspectives of the four Town Council candidates.

Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner is running unopposed for re-election in August as well; he was first elected to the position of mayor in 2018.

For the third installment of questions, the candidates were asked about inclusivity and civil rights within Paradise Valley.

Read below to see what they had to say.

Mark Stanton

•Is Paradise Valley an inclusive environment for all residents, regardless of race or sexual orientation?

Paradise Valley is an inclusive environment for all residents and guests, regardless of race or sexual orientation. That spirit of inclusion helps build our quality of life, as we welcome people from all over the world, from all different backgrounds, to our beautiful Town.

•Our world today is in the midst of some monumental changes: the national Black Lives Matter movement; seeing rights upheld for the LBGTQ population; and the DREAMers ruling overturned. Will these movements/rulings change Paradise Valley?

They will have an impact across the country as well as here in Paradise Valley. Our country is in the midst of important efforts to extend the promise of the American Dream to all our citizens, regardless of race, background or orientation. For my part, I will continue to work to ensure that Paradise Valley is an inclusive and diverse Town and that we continue to be a model for other residential communities.

•Paradise Valley has a long tradition of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day every January. Is community diversity important to you, and do Black Lives Matter?

It’s a blessing to live in and represent a Town that celebrates diversity and the sanctity of individual rights and respect for all people. I am extremely proud of our Town’s tradition in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community diversity is important to me and I believe it’s a source of strength for our Town. Black Lives Matter and I believe every individual needs to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race, background or orientation.

•If elected, how will you show Paradise Valley’s youth that their voices are valued?

The social advances that we continue to see will further the inclusive community spirit for all residents and guests in Paradise Valley. Leading by example and showing that diversity is strength is an important lesson for our youth. Maintaining traditions like our Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration are vital towards that effort.

I think the best way I can show the youth of PV that their voices are valued is by maintaining a transparent and open Town Government that welcomes the voices of all residents and underscoring the importance of casting a vote in every election.

As an elected official, I stand by the belief that every individual has a voice that should be heard and valued and I am proud of my efforts to increase resident engagement during my time on the Town Council.

Jonathan Wainwright

•Is Paradise Valley an inclusive environment for all residents, regardless of race or sexual orientation?

Any community will have exceptions, but my personal experience is that our residents go out of their way to welcome newcomers to the town and embrace those who come from different backgrounds, races, religions or sexual orientations. In part, this is likely because Paradise Valley and Arizona for that matter is largely populated by those who have relocated here. My mother immigrated to the United States and later to Paradise Valley as a war refugee. She was overwhelmed by how welcoming this country and our town are. Her accent, traditions, and challenges with English as a second language was embraced and celebrated by her large group of friends and neighbors. Paradise Valley’s demographics are more diverse now than when I grew up here, but to this day, I believe an overwhelming majority of our citizenry are very inclusive. Town voters have elected Council Members/Mayors from different races, religions, genders and sexual orientations. Those differences were not controversial during the political campaigns and drew little notice or concern from the electorate at the time.

•Our world today is in the midst of some monumental changes: the national Black Lives Matter movement; seeing rights upheld for the LBGTQ population; and the DREAMers ruling overturned. Will these movements/rulings change Paradise Valley?

In a civilized society no person should be treated poorly or with violence because of variables determined at birth. Town government has an excellent history of interacting with residents and visitors of all races, religions or members of the LBGTQ community, so as a matter of policy, I would not propose significant change. I do advocate for vigilant oversight, particularly of law enforcement and a continued commitment to professionalism by staff and transparency in town government. Clearly, recent events will bring change. It is of the utmost importance that policy changes be made only after serious free and public debate in a format that allows all points of view to be heard. A mob should never be permitted to unilaterally topple public monuments, vandalized, loot, riot or shout down the voices of those they disagree with.

•Paradise Valley has a long tradition of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day every January. Is community diversity important to you, and do Black Lives Matter?

The Town makes a significant commitment to celebrating MLK Day. I remember well when this tradition began during a challenging time in Arizona history during the mid-1980s, shortly after President Reagan signed legislation to make Martin Luther King Day a paid national holiday. The then Governor, Evan Mecham chose to recognize MLK Day as a non-paid holiday. Later voters did not approve an MLK paid holiday. The result was national calls to boycott Arizona as a tourist destination and Arizona lost a scheduled Super Bowl.

I very much hope the town continues the tradition of celebrating Martin Luther King Day and his commitment to non-violent change. If there was ever a time when Dr. King advocating that a man be judged by the content of this character and not the color of his skin, now is that time. Do Black Lives Matter? Absolutely! Paradise Valley needs to continue policies that treat people with dignity, safety and justice for all. Is community diversity important to me? Yes, in the broader sense that individual differences and constitutional rights should always be respected, and justice remain unbiased.

•If elected, how will you show Paradise Valley’s youth that their voices are valued?

This is an area of great interest to me. In fact, I would very much enjoy being a history/political science teacher at my old school, Phoenix Country Day. My wife Melinda and I take great pride in how well informed and politically active our children are. We both have fond memories of engaging in spirited debates around the kitchen table and commend our sons for rejecting group think or embracing whatever the fashionable point of view is on social media. I am the only nonincumbent candidate running and I also have not asked for or received campaign contributions. Therefore, I welcome help and I invite younger residents (even if they are too young to vote) to contact me at jonwain2020@gmail.com. I also have a Facebook page which they can “Like” and “Share”, which is Jonathan Wainwright for Paradise Valley Town Council. They can also go to my website, wainwrightforpvtowncouncil.com and get involved in my campaign.

My advice for the next generation is if a person’s opinion is to be heard, that opinion must be expressed in a constructive and respectful manor. If elected, I will have an open-door policy and very much welcome and encourage Paradise Valley’s youth to get involved. Shortly after my 18th birthday, my very first vote was for my father’s re-election to The Paradise Valley Town Council. My political involvement as a young person continued throughout high school and college, working on a presidential campaign and as a staff member for an Arizona congressman. So, to younger members of our community, I recommend getting involved at the local level. You will not be disappointed!

Scott Moore

•Is Paradise Valley an inclusive environment for all residents, regardless of race or sexual orientation?

The Town of Paradise Valley takes a great deal of pride in its efforts to create an inclusive community. We stress diversity at all levels of Town government and have extensive policies in place to promote diversity in our work force. From a community standpoint, Paradise Valley is a home for anyone who wants to enjoy an extraordinary living environment or a place to visit with beautiful resorts that are destinations renowned worldwide. Without a commitment to diversity, from our elected officials, Town staff and our residents this would not be possible.

•Our world today is in the midst of some monumental changes: the national Black Lives Matter movement; seeing rights upheld for the LBGTQ population; and the DREAMers ruling overturned. Will these movements/rulings change Paradise Valley?

I don’t think the effect will be as significant as it will be in other more urban areas, but there is certainly a sea of change in the way people are viewing issues related to race and equality. I believe that change in our collective mind set will also take place among residents of Paradise Valley, so that we can all view these issues with a more enlightened perspective.

•Paradise Valley has a long tradition of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day every January. Is community diversity important to you, and do Black Lives Matter?

Community diversity is extremely important to me and I am proud to be a part of a community that celebrates diversity not just on MLK day, but every day of the year. Black lives do matter, and the Black Lives Matter movement is creating a new level of awareness of the issues Black people face in our country when it comes to equality and racism.

•If elected, how will you show Paradise Valley’s youth that their voices are valued?

Paradise Valley has a long tradition of supporting the endeavors of our young people and recognizing their accomplishments. As with all our residents, we encourage our young people to become involved in Town government and in civic life in general, and our Town will continue to do everything we can to provide our residents with platforms for their input. Under the leadership of Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner we have hosted young scouts and their troop leaders through a question and answer tour of our chambers, offices and study session community room. We actively seek young students from the Town to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance at most of our Council meetings and provide the audience with a brief history of their community achievements. These moments have increased their appreciation of civic duty and the significance each one of their voices can make.

Julie Pace

• Is Paradise Valley an inclusive environment for all residents, regardless of race or sexual orientation?

Yes, my observations and experiences are that our Town is an inclusive environment for all. Paradise Valley is a popular location with our world-class resorts and visitors from all over the world. As a community, we celebrate multi-lingual fluencies and are proud of diversity in our community.
The Town of Paradise Valley emphasizes being an equal opportunity employer in its hiring, recruitment and promotion opportunities, and focuses on the skills, knowledge, experience and performance (SKEP) of the applicants. Diversity under the law includes all categories, e.g. age (40 and over), race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability, religion, and other protected categories. Under the law, organizations cannot favor one protected classification over another.

When I was first elected to council, and because of my experience as an employment lawyer for companies, I naturally look at these issues, I specifically asked questions about diversity and what we as a Town were doing to encourage diversity when succession planning occurred or openings arose on Town committees, commissions or the Judiciary, while also ensuring we kept standards of SKEP high. My peers and I discussed these questions and everyone was receptive to talk about it and were open to confirming the diversity and depth of the Judiciary and goals for succession planning, as well as on committees.

With a Town Manager and Mayor/Council form of government, we as Council members are not involved in the hiring of Town employees, (except for the Town Manager and Town Attorney). As a Council though we are involved in appointments to committees, commissions, and approving members of the Judiciary. We have been fortunate to have quality candidates who have also increased the diversity of our committee and commission appointments during the past four years when I have served on Council.

And we have women in leadership positions in our Town. Our Town Manager is female, I currently serve as the Town’s Vice Mayor, our Deputy Counsel is female and we have three female Council members. I also served as Chair of the ACOPS Committee for more than two years and the current Chair is Councilmember Ellen Andeen.

The recent events have caused people to respectfully listen more to the experiences of African-Americans. Some of the targeting that Blacks and others have experienced are at times hard to hear and cause much sadness to learn that people could treat one another so disrespectfully. Hate and violence have no place in our society. The pain of the George Floyd video is excruciating for anyone to watch. Learning from the experiences of others can lead to integration of practices and behaviors that can foster more inclusive environments and equal opportunity for all.

“I hear your voice” is key in the dialogue. It is a theme I use in respect-at-work and diversity training classes that I teach as an employment lawyer representing businesses. Sometimes people may want to avoid the awkwardness of engaging others in dialogue, but encouraging and learning about someone else’s life experiences can create opportunities for understanding and changing the future for the greater good.
Paradise Valley is full of wonderful, caring, bright, educated, and business savvy people who respect individuals, without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, religion, age, and more. Many in our Town are business owners, managers, CEOs and financially independent investors who are committed to equality and inclusiveness as a way of life in their businesses, as well as in their personal lives. Our residents care and teach and lead by example.

•Our world today is in the midst of some monumental changes: the national Black Lives Matter movement; seeing rights upheld for the LBGTQ population; and the DREAMers ruling overturned. Will these movements/rulings change Paradise Valley?

The recent events and court rulings will not bring changes specific to Paradise Valley because the Town government has a good track record of non-discrimination and inclusiveness in its operations. The recent court decisions referenced in this question laws did not change much about what I had long ago implemented in my professional life, working for companies as an employment defense attorney and trainer and in my pro bono work. I have been fortunate to make a difference regularly in fostering diversity discussions and teaching Respect at Work to hundreds of companies and to thousands of employees in a wide variety of industries, including construction, hospitality, landscaping, manufacturing, and more.

I have worked to successfully bridge the gap and solve issues many times in the workplace between individuals with conflicts arising out of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability and more. It is part of my job to build consensus and figure out solutions, and I have done it my entire professional life on many issues.

As a business lawyer working for companies and with Chambers of Commerce across the State, I recognize that it is good business to have workplaces free from these types of distractions and tensions. We all want workers to develop and grow and become better at what they do, and we do not want to limit the possibilities for any reason, particularly not for discriminatory or biased reasons.

•Paradise Valley has a long tradition of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day every January. Is community diversity important to you, and do Black Lives Matter?

For many years, Paradise Valley has held a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. I regularly attend the event and applaud the efforts of the Bahai’s of Paradise Valley and our Town leaders who initiated a proposal many years ago to honor those working for harmony, non-violence and diversity in society.
The Bahai’s also established an essay contest to engage students about the vision of Dr. King, and about unity, non-violence, and tackling the vital and challenging issue of racism that is facing America. Long-term Town resident John Wintersteen helps coordinate this positive, worthwhile activity.
The speakers at the annual event are powerful and help me lean in, listen and engage in self-reflection.

Celebration and recognition of community diversity is important. And, there is a lot to celebrate. The Dad Gang of African-American fathers caring for their children and shattering stereotypes through photos is very touching, powerful and speaks volumes about the impact younger generations can have on shaping the future and positive role modeling through social media. Every day people engage in acts of kindness and respect.

The primary focus should not be whether candidates for office prefer to say the words Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter. Both expressions encapsulate valid points of view and are not mutually exclusive. The more important question is what are one’s values and what policies does the person support or implement to contribute to the solution of the very real issues that have tragically unfolded in our society and to prevent the repeat of these tragedies.

My track record of community service is a lifetime of work in many arenas, including receiving the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Spirit of Unity Award. Please go to www.paceforpv.com to learn more.

Part of my life experiences is knowing and listening to people who were taken from their homes and placed by the Government in Japanese internment camps in Arizona; Native American families who had their children physically taken away from them by the Government and placed in boarding schools to allegedly assimilate them, and listening to Holocaust survivors about the targeting and taking of life and liberties with atrocities that are unfathomable.
America is full of lofty ideas and the best of America makes all of us proud and should unify us. The progress each generation makes toward the fulfillment of those ideals is important. I have traveled to more than 90 countries overseas and each trip home renews my enthusiasm for America and the commitment to progress in equality and human rights, as I have seen first hand the effects of the repression of human rights.

I was fortunate to be selected by the State Legislature to serve on the Arizona Constitution Commemoration Committee for two years. I was proud of the work we did on the Committee to celebrate the importance of Arizona’s and our Country’s governing documents. The Constitutions are critical to the ideals of equality for all.

My respect for our Country’s founding documents is grounded in my ancestors having settled in Jamestown, Virginia in 1618 where there is an historical marker for their key role in preventing a raid to destroy the colony. My family settled in Arizona in the 1880s well before Arizona became a state in 1912.
My long-standing family farming roots have taught me the importance of working together as community to build for a better future. We learned the importance of relying on and helping others. Society needs us all to contribute. Please pick your passion and do something good.

•If re-elected, how will you show Paradise Valley’s youth that their voices are valued?

We have such amazing young future leaders growing and thriving in our community! Mayor Bien-Willner’s initiative to have youth start our Town Council meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance has been a wonderful addition to our Town process. There has been an amazing diverse group of children who have led the Pledge and received recognition from the mayor for doing so.
Our Town recognizes youth winners of the essay contest that is part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Celebration. Our Town has an annual youth arts event and displays the art in our Town’s community room. The Police Department started a Police Explorers program to work with youth. And, the Police have Blue Wednesdays where they have lunch at schools with kids. We are fortunate to have a conscientious police department that exhibits the type of respect and leadership that we want in our community. We should applaud those efforts. These are all events that demonstrate that youth voices matter and help build relations and foster future leaders.

I have represented the Town at programs for youth, including participating with U.S. Army recruiters in outreach programs for high school students.
Youth are the future and are already materially changing the culture regarding race and biases they may observe. Today’s youth speak up and communicate via social media when they see or experience injustice. Youth use ever-changing technology to record what in the past may have been hidden. The technology used by everyone today has proven to be a powerful tool and an additional check and balance on the abuse of power.

During this Pandemic time period, many parents are spending a lot of quality time with their children. These moments of teaching and mentoring are invaluable to their development and the opportunity to instill empathy, critical thinking, education, and volunteerism. We need to support our schools and the teachers who play such a strong, positive role in development of youth.
Every generation is shaped by the challenges that they have faced and overcome. The Greatest Generation conquered the Depression and World War II.

Baby Boomers left an imprint during the Vietnam War era and civil rights movement. Today’s young people are coming of age in an era of social media, a once-in-a-century pandemic, and foreign conflicts. Together we all can individually make choices to make a difference and be a positive influence in our daily walks of life. Today and each day, we can be a leader and foster a better future. Let’s all be examples that benefit our current and future generations!

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