Tribune issues endorsements for March 5 election
Today the Tribune begins a series of editorials endorsing candidates in the March 5 election. The scope will be limited to contested, nonpartisan races of specific interest to Tahoe residents.
An endorsement is an opinion, nothing less and nothing more. We do not claim to have special insight regarding the candidates or their ability to serve the citizens of El Dorado County. Through interviews with our editorial board, we considered candidates’ qualifications, their knowledge of issues affecting Tahoe, and less tangible qualities including candor and ability.
The endorsement process is imperfect, much like the political process itself, and in trying something new we may be accused of favoritism or bias. Our only goal, however, is to help educate voters about the choices they face March 5 and some of the issues that might help them decide.
Today we consider the races for assessor and recorder-clerk. Next Friday we will endorse candidates running for three different judgeships. On March 1, we’ll announce our choices for district attorney and sheriff.
If you like doing your taxes, you’d probably love being assessor. Not because the assessor’s office collects taxes (it doesn’t) but because you can wear a pocket protector and explain fun concepts like this to county residents:
“Under Proposition 8, the assessed value of your property will need to be reviewed annually. The value will be increased (or decreased) depending on how the market looks, until the original trended base year value is the market value, at which time, that value will be re-enrolled.”
There are also lots of digits and codes and forms, none of which are particularly interesting but become vitally important when you buy and sell property. We’re not talking chump change, either: The county’s assessment roll tops $13 billion.
The assessor’s office is poised for change in the coming years with several key personnel preparing to retire. And the race is unusually competitive, with two candidates from inside the office and an outsider looking to shake things up a little.
We like Bill Vandegrift, who wants to be less a pencil pusher than an advocate for the taxpaying public. His real estate background would come in handy, no doubt, and it’s hard to argue against trying to provide good customer service.
It’s also hard to argue against Tim Holcomb, the assistant county assessor. He rightly points out that he’s a proven quantity quite capable of doing the job.
But our endorsement goes to Terrence “Terry” Tawney, who still sees room for improvement after being with the county since 1978. His knowledge of Tahoe borders on the encyclopedic, particularly on tricky timeshare valuations, and he feels as we do that change can be a positive force. “The key is having an office culture of excellence,” said Tawney, an assessment systems manager (whatever that is).
Tawney may not wear a pocket protector but he has a passion for numbers and a formidable intellect. He’d make a great assessor.
What the heck does the recorder-clerk do? Don’t be ashamed, we had to ask too. Think public records including “deeds of trust, judgments, liens, affidavits … and the filing of births, deaths and marriages.”
This endorsement was a slam-dunk. William Schultz, the incumbent, has held the job since 1995. He’s no slouch on the technical front, with a pretty good Web site, and he understands the Tahoe wedding industry. If he wants to keep our important paperwork nice and tidy, we say let him.
Deborah Morgan, his opponent, has a genuine interest in public service. While her skills are lacking for this post, her enthusiasm and energy are undeniable. We encourage her to broaden her knowledge of government and take another run in the future.