On May 6th the race for the Kentucky Derby resumes. For two of the most exciting minutes in sports jockeying will abound during the run for the roses.
But in Paradise Valley a different kind of race has already begun, almost two full years ahead of when Mayor Michael Collins will pass the baton to his successor.
That’s because Collins took the highly unusual step of announcing so early that he would not again be seeking re-election. Typically, elected officials like to wait on such announcements to maintain as much of their standing and leverage for as long as possible. But Collins is no typical politician and he showed great integrity alerting the community he intended to abide by his two mayoral term pledge.
And that leads us to who might replace his big shoes. Unlike when former Mayor Scott Lemarr stepped away and Collins was such a prohibitive favorite no one ran against him, 2018 is likely to be entirely different. So let’s look at the potential field:
*Current Councilman Mark Stanton. Twice elected to council, a proven vote getter and someone who serves with a smile.
*Current Councilman Paul Dembow. No one wants the job more but no one has more political baggage. Can he overcome it? Time could be his friend if matters concerning the Paradise Valley Police Department get cleared up, or not.
*Current Councilman Jerry Bien-Willner. The favorite of at least one former Mayor the question is whether he has the moxy to be in that political caste system? At a time when most everyone in Paradise Valley is happy with the community’s direction it could be that a steady, cautious hand may appeal to the electorate rather than a salesman.
*Former Councilwoman Pam Kirby: She’s never lost an election. Twice elected to the Town Council and twice to the Scottsdale School Board. Kirby’s decision may be more a matter of who else gets in the race as to her jumping in early.
*Former Mayor Scott Lemarr: He initially regretted stepping away when he did but now seems somewhat content with a good life and Governor Ducey appointed position with the State of Arizona. Might he reconsider? He’d be tough to beat and likely enter the race as the favorite.
*State Representative Maria Syms: Sure it’s possible but highly unlikely after Syms’ hard-fought win to get to the Arizona House of Representatives. Plus, she seems to be enjoying herself there. So for those hoping for Lemarr-Syms The Sequel, don’t get your hopes up too high.
*Councilwoman Julie Pace: A potential dark horse candidate. Pace had never run for office prior to her successful run in 2016. But she clearly knows how to put together a winning campaign. Pace is also a very successful attorney so whether the time is now to cede more hourly billings will likely loom as a big question.
From Churchill Downs to Lincoln and Invergordon, it’s off to the races.