Aspiring to be Assessor
Given that one of life’s proverbial certainties is taxes, El Dorado voters should be sure to choose carefully when they elect the next county assessor.
The county assessor is one of three persons in county government required by the California Constitution to be elected, along with the sheriff and district attorney. The assessor determines property values throughout the county and reports those values to the county auditor to levy the appropriate property tax.
There are two people vying for the assessor seat which will be vacated Dec. 31, 2002: Tim Holcomb and Terry Tawney.
Both Holcomb and Tawney are employed at the county assessor’s office and have an amicable working relationship. Holcomb is the assistant assessor for El Dorado County. Tawney is serving as the assessor’s system manager. County Assessor John Winner is endorsing Holcomb, but insists that business in the assessor’s office will go on as usual throughout the course of the campaign.
“I want to keep an open clean race, and I would prefer to keep the politics out of the office,” Winner said.
Holcomb and Tawney both said they have mutual respect for one another and office rivalry should not be an issue. The candidates are focused on showing the El Dorado County property tax payers why they would be best for the job.
Holcomb’s career with the El Dorado County Assessor, started while living in South Lake Tahoe in 1977.
“I have 24 years of experience in property tax,” Holcomb said. “When I lived in South Lake, I worked as an Appraiser 1. I started (in the El Dorado County Assessor’s office) as an Assessor 1, and went to Assessor 2, and worked my way on up the ladder.”
As the assistant assessor for eight years, Holcomb said working closely with Winner has given him insight into the duties of the county assessor.
“I am the man that runs the office in John’s (Winner) absence,” Holcomb said. “He and I work as a team running the office. It is difficult for a person to come into the county assessor’s office with no experience and get up to speed. If you have a philosophy that the taxpayer is the highest priority in the scheme of things then you can look at the laws to maximize their benefits.”
Holcomb said his decision to run was based on his desire to serve the best interests of the public.
“One of the biggest attributes I would be bringing to the position is my people skills,” Holcomb said. “The staff in my office are 100 percent behind me. We have a staff in place, a machinery if you will, trained in many areas and it is a really good working group of people. My philosophies are embraced by this group. I am not running to use the assessor’s seat as a stepping stone. I am running to use the assessor’s position to provide the best public service possible.”
Tawney began working in property assessment in 1972. His career began in the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office and moved to the El Dorado office in 1978 where he developed the computer system that the assessor’s office currently uses. Tawney said his greatest strength is his knowledge of the technical aspects of the job.
“Property taxes are very technical. I can’t emphasize that enough,” Tawney said. “I like to think we are getting the work done because we have a computer system that supports the staff. We are leveraging the staff with the computer system. If it is complex for us, imagine how complex it is for the proverbial little old lady.”
Tawney said he is running for the assessor’s office because he has a vision for what he thinks the county office should be.
“I have been in public service all my life,” Tawney said. “Not just my job, but in church. Public service is more than just a slogan to me and I want to see that continue in my office. (Running for the county assessor’s seat) is a natural progression in terms of moving up in a career. I am running to see my vision of the office come true.”
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