Name: Jon Paladini
Education: Bachelor's degree in Journalism from University of Oregon; law degree from University of Miami Law School
Years in the Verde Valley: four years
Occupation: attorney; partner, Spector Law Offices, Sedona
Previous Elected Service: None
Advisory Board/Commission Experience: Appointed by Governor Hull to the Arizona Conservation Acquisition Board in 1998; appointed in 1998 to Catholic Diocese School Board overseeing policy and operations of all Catholic Schools in northern half of state
Civic Affiliations/Clubs: member of Verde Valley Regional Planning group; member of Sedona Committee on Growth
Looking at the big picture is what Cornville attorney Jon Paladini says Yavapai County needs.
Paladini faces off with incumbent Chip Davis at the Sept. 12 Republican primary.
“If I’m elected, the themes are leadership and long-term vision,” said Paladini, “so that when there are decisions made we don’t just look to tomorrow and next week, but five to 10 years down the road to see what the impacts of the decisions might be.”
Paladini, who has made character a central issue of his campaign, said unity, civility and professionalism need to be restored to the office of county supervisor. “It’s one thing to debate and disagree on a difference of policy,” he said. “I think there’s too much ... personality involved now. The campaign should really be about the issues and where the candidates stand on these issues.”
He contends there are some people involved in different government or public functions who quietly embrace his cause.
“I have heard that they will support us but they don’t feel comfortable publicly endorsing our campaign because they fear retaliation,” said Paladini, who first came to the Verde Valley as an attorney for the City of Sedona. “They’re afraid county decisions will be made against them if they publicly support me. I can’t tell you how realistic that is.”
Paladini, now a partner in a Scottsdale-based legal firm with offices in Sedona, said his practice primarily focuses on land-use, zoning, real estate development, environmental and general legal work. Responding to what he said has been misinterpretations of his statements, Paladini said he will not share his time between serving as a supervisor and representing clients. Rather, if elected, he will put his legal practice on hold, maintain his license to practice and be a one-term supervisor because there should not be a full-time, career politician in the supervisor’s office.
“More people should have the opportunity to serve as a supervisor,” he said.
When asked about assertions that he gleans much of his support from development interests, Paladini said, “I would say they call them developers,” making reference to his opponent’s supporters.
“I call them private property owners ... I basically represent people, property owners, small business owners and individuals who are primarily dealing with the government because in a lot of situations the government – local, state, county and federal – is overstepping its boundaries or it’s doing things it shouldn’t be doing,” said Paladini. “Representing people in front of their government is exactly what I will do as a county supervisor.”
And he is quick to point out a multitude of other distinctions between himself and Davis, starting with government. “Chip believes people should trust in government because it knows what’s best for them,” he said, “and I believe people should put trust in people because we know what’s best.”
While Paladini has been telling voters that each of Yavapai County’s three districts is in need of a separate board of adjustment and planning and zoning commission, Davis has said each district already has a separate board of adjustment and that state law does not permit separate planning and zoning commissions.
Paladini counters that the board of adjustment is made up of people not from District 3, and that he would be willing to work with the state Legislature and the League of Counties to change the law to create separate commissions.
“The difference is that we have new ideas and we’re willing to break out of the mold and push the envelope to do new things that I think people want,” he said. “It’s not OK to be satisfied with the status quo when it comes to government. It’s a question of who will accept it or say the way it should be and change it.”
And while the current members of the county Board of Supervisors are basking in the glow of having lowered property tax rates annually, including this year by 10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, Paladini said they haven’t gone far enough. He said they need to reduce spending to keep up with increases in assessed valuations, which rose 7.7 percent this year, while the tax rate this year only dropped by one-tenth of 1 percent.
“There’s no reason why the county government can’t reduce tax rates by the same rate that the assessed valuations go up, so tax bills from year to year stay the same or go down,” observed Paladini.
On that note, Paladini continued that he would like to see the privatization of many social services the county now provides.
“Other counties are privatizing welfare services and publicly funded indigent health care,” he said. “Privatizing costs less. Government always costs more to do the same thing a private company can do.”
Paladini also took the opportunity to criticize Davis, whom he said incurs the highest expenses of any of the three supervisors. Along with that, he maintains, is the cost of Davis’ quarterly meetings with constiuents in unincorporated communities in his district. Paladini said when Davis brings along county staff to those meetings, those county employees are getting paid, some even overtime, to be there. He believes his role as a supervisor is to meet with his constituents and would do so by borrowing an office in each location, bringing along a laptop and a cell phone, and “spending time with people.”
“A supervisor should be sitting, listening and answering questions, dealing with these people one-on-one,” he said.
He said he’d also like to see the county shift priorities when it comes to the sheriff’s office, remarking there needs to be more money for deputies and prosecution of crimes. “It’s the basic stuff government should provide.”
Paladini said by working with the private sector, the county also needs a “community plan” for health care.
“We need to find a way to deliver basic preventative health care for children and seniors,” he said.