We Have a Race for Paradise Valley Mayor: Pace vs Bien-Willner

Photo Credit: paradisevalley.gov

Paradise Valley politics have often been relatively similar to the nature of the town itself; a bit sleepy, not too much excitement happening (save a cross being stolen), just how its residents prefer. But that may be changing this year, as not only will we have competitive Town Council races, but it also looks like we will have a Mayoral race.

After being on the fence for a bit as to whether or not she wanted to run for Mayor, Councilmember Julie Pace has taken the plunge and recently submitted nearly double the minimum amount of signatures to get on the ballot. Barring extremely unforeseen circumstances, she will be facing off against the incumbent Jerry Bien-Willner.

As far as small town storylines go, there are a few interesting angles to this one. Bien-Willner was actually listed as a supporter of Pace during her last Town Council campaign, but as often goes in politics, today’s friends can become tomorrow’s enemies and vice versa. That good will soured over the last year or so, and in sometimes very public ways.

The disagreements spilled out into the public sphere most prominently during the proposed change to reduce the town’s road setbacks from 20 feet to 10 feet. Pace wrote an op-ed highlighting her opposition to the proposal without mentioning the Mayor by name except to solicit the public to write to him and the rest of the council if they are also in opposition. That was followed by a direct response from Bien-Willner, and any pretense of veiled conflict went out the window.

The two will likely have relatively light differences on policy; when the town is as special as it currently is without many glaring issues, it becomes difficult to truly differentiate from a policy perspective. And that’s a good thing; much better to live in an area with no pressing issues than handfuls of them, leaving it up to candidates to prioritize which ones they think are most important to voters.

It should be a tough race, with Pace demonstrating good fundraising chops and deep connections, tightening a race that would otherwise be difficult; unseating a scandal-free incumbent. That said, regardless of outcome, we are confident that PV will be in good hands and will continue to be a truly unique and exemplary town.