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Stuhr stands out for Jackson County assessor

The job of county assessor is one of those elected positions that can present voters with a tough choice at election time. It's an administrative position, so the campaign tends to be battle of resumes rather than a debate about policy.

It's an important job, because the assessor is responsible for determining the value of real property in the county so taxes can be collected accurately and fairly. But the assessor has no control over the taxes themselves, or over tax rates. State law sets out the requirements for property appraisals, and the assessor may advise lawmakers on changing the rules, but no more.

Five candidates are seeking the open assessor's position this year after the resignation of Josh Gibson. Four of them — David Arrasmith, Ruth Staten, Angela Stuhr and Michael Wright — are currently appraisers in the Jackson County Assessor's Office. One, David Anderson, works for Erickson Aviation, but is a licensed appraiser and has experience in that field.

The Mail Tribune Editorial Board asked the five candidates to answer a detailed questionnaire about their qualifications and their plans for the office should they be elected. All are clearly qualified to do the job, with extensive backgrounds in property appraisal, real estate and related fields.

But Angela Stuhr stands out to us both for her background and for some of the specific things she wants to accomplish.

Before joining the Assessor's Office, Stuhr had extensive experience in the real estate industry, from processing mortgages to doing fee appraisals to project management. She is one of the Assessor's Office's lead appraisers, a position of leadership and responsibility.

Like all the candidates, Stuhr says she thinks the office is well run now, but she proposes some specific improvements. She suggests holding evening forums to educate the public about the tax system, and helping real estate and title company professionals to better understand tax laws and procedures, as well as asking builders and developers to assist in determining property values.

The county shares a common computer platform with 12 other Oregon counties, but is the only one that does not reset cost data every year, which Stuhr says would be more accurate.

She acknowledges that the assessor has no power to set tax rates or determine tax policy, but notes the importance of working with lawmakers when the Legislature takes up tax law changes next year.

The assessor's office operates mostly unseen by most county residents beyond the statement they receive in the mail once a year. With Angela Stuhr in charge, it might become just a little less mysterious. We recommend voters choose Stuhr for Jackson County assessor.