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Paradise Valley mayoral candidates talk the No. 1 issue facing Town Hall — and how they will work to ensure the exceptional quality of life

From left are Paradise Valley mayoral candidates Mary Hamway, Mark Stanton and Anna Thomasson. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
Paradise Valley mayoral candidates offer insights into local news that matters
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

Next month local voters will elect a new mayor for the Town of Paradise Valley — from a field of 3.

Community stewards Mary Hamway, Mark Stanton and Anna Thomasson are vying for the top elected position at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, as three-term Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner has opted to not seek re-election to local office.

Voters will take to the polls Tuesday, July 30, to elect lawmakers across the nation including the next president of the United States — and the Town of Paradise Valley is no exception.

The Digital Free Press reached out to each Paradise Valley mayoral candidate to offer readers a better understanding of what these candidates believe to be the No. 1 issue facing the exceptional quality of life experienced by fellow residents — and, if elected, what they will do to keep it that way.

Furthermore, each candidate was asked how they would work collaboratively and effectively to work to common goals at Town Hall.

This is what they had to say:

Mark Stanton
Paradise Valley Mayoral Candidate: Mark Stanton

*What is the No. 1 problem facing Town Hall and how did this problem emerge in your opinion?

The No. 1 problem facing Town Hall is protecting our local municipal control from the overreach of the State Legislature. From short-term rentals, property rights and the ability to use photo traffic enforcement, the State Legislature is consistently encroaching on all municipalities across the state (including Paradise Valley). Keeping and managing local control is what is best for our residents in order to maintain our quality of life in Paradise Valley.

This problem stems from aggressive Arizona Legislative agendas that are put forth to control municipalities at the state level. It is an annual issue and occurs with each State Legislative Session.

*If elected, what will you do to cure this issue?

I will work with my colleagues to develop an annual Legislative Agenda, prioritize legislative elements, attend legislative sessions, work closely with our professional lobbying representatives, testify at legislative hearings when the agenda item directly affects our town, weigh-in on various bills to determine their merit and meet regularly with elected legislative leaders. In addition, I will continue the goodwill legacy of our town’s leadership of collaborating with other statewide municipal leaders to help protect municipal rights and local control.

*As a Town of Paradise Valley resident, how will you work toward common goals atop the local dais to ensure the exceptional quality of life?

My role as mayor will include demonstrating consistent and positive leadership as well as collaboration with the council. My goal is to maintain a “can do” approach to resident-focused customer service and manage responsible decisions on policy issues and opportunities for Paradise Valley.

I bring proven leadership skills and experience, with a management style to inspire and not micro-manage. The role of mayor is pivotal in leading our town’s commitment to limited government, customer service, preparedness and encouraging resident feedback and engagement.

Having held leadership positions with the municipal, county and state government, I will use that background in the role of mayor to maintain quality of life initiatives and priorities to keep Paradise Valley as the beautiful and safe town that I have known all my life.

*What do think is the best reason to be mayor of the Town of Paradise Valley?

There are two answers to this question: volunteerism and leadership. I believe that giving your time to something you truly believe in and find fulfillment from is so rewarding. I also know though that to be mayor you must have experience, integrity, commitment and focus to provide responsible and balanced leadership in that position.

Volunteering my time as a member of the Paradise Valley Town Council has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had the honor serve. Becoming mayor, representing the most beautiful town in Arizona, would be an important and amazing opportunity and responsibility in my role of public service for Paradise Valley.

I want to continue to protect and serve the same Paradise Valley that I have known all my life. Being the mayor of Paradise Valley would be a great honor. In that role, I will work diligently to maintain the long-term legacy of our limited government, protect our quality of life, and preserve our town for future generations to enjoy.

Anna Thomasson
Paradise Valley Mayoral Candidate: Anna Thomasson

*What is the No. 1 problem facing Town Hall and how did this problem emerge in your opinion?

Government overreach from the state legislature is our greatest threat. I will leverage my current legislative experience and 35-years as a successful business consultant to fight these threats to our tax revenue, single family, 1-acre zoning and photo enforcement.

During my council service, I actively supported the town’s legislative agenda, testifying five times before legislative committees at the mayor’s request, following up with dozens of emails, texts and statements to committee members – more than the other two mayoral candidates combined.

I regularly meet with our three elected state representatives and am in very close contact with them on key issues. My current council experience and current, active legislative relationships will contribute to our strategic lobbying and effective negotiations. We have countered these threats to our town values, but they will reemerge.

*As a Town of Paradise Valley resident, how will you work toward common goals atop the local dais to ensure the exceptional quality of life?

Serving on council is a team sport and the mayor is part of that team. Only by working with colleagues can we accomplish our legislative agenda, pass budgets, supervise our town manager and make any necessary policy changes. As mayor, I will continue working with my colleagues to understand their positions and learn from them.

We have an excellent council of passionate, committed professionals who share a love of our town. We are united in our focus on maintaining our exceptional quality of life as evidenced by our record of mostly unanimous votes. Like any great sports team, we all have a talent and teams win championships when each player is encouraged to be their best, using their talent for the common goal. As mayor, I know we are better collectively than individually and I will make sure all perspectives are heard. Our residents deserve nothing less.

*What do think is the best reason to be mayor of the Town of Paradise Valley?

I am the only candidate who is a sitting councilmember, who has worked to solve current issues who is available full time to serve our residents.

Thanks to a successful 35-year Fortune 500 consulting career, I’m fortunate to have the skills and time to make serving Paradise Valley my first priority. People describe me as “all in,” and if I’m not walking the town or at a legislative hearing, I’m at every Coffee with a Cop, Planning Commission meeting, Mayor’s breakfast, neighborhood meeting, breakfast group or social lunch. I love this town, am fully involved and have the skills to lead collaboratively.

As a former vice mayor, I have worked exceptionally hard to listen and lead as our council has tackled short-term rental reform, resort redevelopment, threats to our 1-acre zoning, and a pandemic that decimated our resort revenues. Our town is in great shape, and I will work with our council, staff and volunteers to keep it that way.

Our past mayors have left us a legacy of excellence and I aspire to continue that legacy. You can reach me at: anna@annathomasson.com.

Mary Hamway
Paradise Valley Mayoral Candidate: Mary Hamway

*What is the No. 1 problem facing Town Hall and how did this problem emerge in your opinion?

Since the pandemic, we find ourselves with almost an entirely new town hall staff, including a new town manager, executive directors in community development, finance, public works, engineering and human resources. The institutional knowledge that has been lost is unprecedented and will be replaced over time with new systems and processes introduced by the new employees.

While change can be positive in finding more efficient ways of working, we must make sure that the council does not lose its unique legislative approach to town governance. If elected as mayor, I would ensure the council maintains its legislative processes. The loss of institutional knowledge can’t be cured, but must be regrown over time.

*As a Town of Paradise Valley resident, how will you work toward common goals atop the local dais to ensure the exceptional quality of life?

Rarely is there controversy when working toward common goals. We all want to maintain our exceptional quality of life. The controversy comes when the communication is poor, or the project is not well scoped, or the goal changes, or there are differing views on what is needed.

All opinions and ideas should be welcomed. Good communication, input from various groups and compromise always delivers a better outcome.

Best reason to be the mayor I have a proven track record of finding solutions to complicated issues. My many years of service to our town, plus my experience in working with the legislature, and other city and county officials in representing Paradise Valley makes me the best choice for mayor.

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