The chief role of the Clark County assessor is not to assess or appraise property value but to manage a department that does. That involves almost four dozen workers and an annual budget of almost $8 million. And that’s one reason the county assessor is paid more than $92,364 a year.
Nor is the role of the county assessor to determine revenue generated by property taxes. That amount (the size of the pie) is determined by the Legislature. County assessors merely determine how the pie is divided.
So it is important to have a county assessor with a solid management background and a full understanding of the duties. Starting in 2002, that person was Linda Franklin, who previously worked for 23 years as the department’s top deputy. Franklin is retiring this year, but two capable replacements have stepped forward in the Aug. 17 primary: real estate specialist David Horowitz and Daniel Weaver, a member of the Clark County Board of Equalization.
Horowitz is the best choice among four candidates. He understands the ups and downs of the real estate business and knows how to manage people of multiple talents and duties. For the past couple of decades, he has worked as a financial consultant specializing in real estate and has managed a small homebuilding business. Through the 1980s, he was vice president of finance and administration for Realvest, a local property management firm, and directed 16 people. Prior to that, Horowitz worked for five years as Western regional controller (directing 25 workers) for The Taubman Co., a San Francisco firm that develops and manages shopping centers.
Horowitz, who has had disputes with the county assessor’s office about appraisals of his property, describes himself as a “team player … I don’t try to do it all myself. I know how to manage a department and bring out the best in individuals.” This is Horowitz’s first run for elected office, although he is familiar with local politics; his wife, Linda, served on the Vancouver City Council from 1990 to 1998.
Two candidates will advance to the Nov. 2 general election, and although Horowitz is most impressive, Weaver also has the qualifications to run in the fall finale. As a six-year member of the Clark County Board of Equalization, he is trained and experienced in numerous aspects of appraisals and the assessment appeals process. He also has extensive management experience in the business sector, having supervised large departments in accounting and security companies. Weaver has a broad knowledge about computerized system conversions, an expertise that would carry value in the county assessor’s office. He also serves on the Clark County Railroad Advisory Board.
Horowitz and Weaver both are CPAs and are running as Republicans, although neither espouses political leanings in their respective campaigns for a job that — as we see it — should be among the nonpartisan elected offices.
Other candidates include Janet Seekins, a Democrat with almost 30 years in the county assessor’s office but who has no management experience, and Republican Peter Van Nortwick, a certified appraiser who has been running a negative, attack-dog campaign. Among Van Nortwick’s strongest supporters is state Sen. Don Benton, who ran for county assessor against Franklin in 2002 and lost.
To review other Columbian endorsements for the primary, visit http://columbian.com/news/opinion.