Experience paid off for at least two Paradise Valley council members. In a battle between old and new, two young candidates relatively new to politics and the town itself ran against three seasoned political professionals who had all lived in Paradise Valley for more than 15 years.
Mayor Ron Clarke and longtime Councilwoman Virginia “Jini” Simpson won two of the three empty seats Tuesday night.
“The fact that both Ron and I were re-elected shows that the town is generally happy with the direction that the entire council is going,” said Simpson, who will be serving her fourth term on the council.
First-time political candidate Sam Wercinski had the third-highest number of votes. But because he didn’t win by more than 50 percent, he will face Brian Cooney in a runoff on May 16, unofficial results show. Wercinski missed the mark to win outright by a handful of votes, by the unofficial count. He said he is hoping the runoff will go in his favor.
“If I am elected, I will be humbled to have the opportunity to represent the residents of Paradise Valley for the next four years,” Wercinski said.
Clarke, who has lived in the town since 1967, has served on the council since 2000. He has been mayor since June 2004.
In Paradise Valley, the council chooses its mayor from among its ranks. The new council will vote on retaining Clarke in May.
Longtime community activist Liz Clendenin had the least number of votes.
It was the third time Clendenin, 69, has lost a bid for Town Council. She ran unsuccessfully in 2004 as an official candidate and in 2002 as a write-in candidate.
The new council members take their seats on June 1 in the midst of some big changes to the town, including resort redevelopment, new development, new condo projects and fire protection services.