I’m running for Assessor because Jeffco’s residents and businesses deserve a great Assessor’s office. People need confidence that the value placed on their property is fair, accurate, and defensible. I will work to improve the accuracy of valuations, increase transparency, and dramatically improve communications with taxpayers.
I am committed to transparency so that county residents can easily learn exactly how assessed values are determined, and exactly where all their tax dollars go.
I will communicate continuously with all stakeholders. Other Assessors in Colorado have told me that they have seen appeals fall dramatically when they improved constituent communication.
In fact, many of Colorado’s 64 County Assessors have robust websites where people can learn all about how mill levies are set, and what affect Gallagher, TABOR, and other state statutes have on their property taxes. When I’m elected, the Jefferson County Assessor’s website will be among the best in the state.
Many counties have proven that when people feel like they know how values are set, how taxes are calculated, and what services their taxes support, they are less likely to file appeals.
What makes me the person for this job?
I have been a Colorado real estate agent for about 15 years, and a real estate junkie for most of my life. I started real estate sections at two newspapers. Understanding how to value real estate has been a big part of my life.
In an office with about 60 employees, it is important that the person in charge not only understands real estate valuation, but has a clear vision for the department.
My vision is this:
- Be transparent. Taxpayers, business owners, voters, and county residents have the right to know everything they want to know about their government.
- Use the website to educate people about what the office does, how property taxes are determined, where their money goes, etc.
- Engage with people regularly, from Rotary Clubs and homeowners’ associations to Q&A sessions at libraries, I will be out there talking to people, listening to people, and learning how I can do my job better.
- Use the best available technology to achieve the most accurate assessments.
Why I am the best person for the job
In addition to being a real estate agent, I have worn many other hats in my life which will enable me to bring a diverse skillset to the job:
- Manager of public relations at Intelligent Electronics, a Fortune 400 high-tech company.
- Deputy press secretary to then-U.S. Senator Tim Wirth.
- Reporter, editor and co-owner of a newspaper, The Wood River Journal in Sun Valley, Idaho.
- Editor of the online-only Colorado Independent.
- Senior associate at consulting firm Joining Vision and Action.
- As an independent consultant and freelance writer I have worked with such companies as Transamerica, Ford, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Exabyte, Comcast and many others.
Much of my professional experience has been communicating and engaging with the public and bringing innovative approaches to the job. I will use these skills to improve the office of the Assessor.
I was born in Eugene, Oregon in 1957. I visited Colorado on a family road trip in the early 1970s and knew I would someday live here. I graduated from the University of Washington in 1983. During college, I served as student body president, wrote for the college paper, and was involved in many political causes.
I moved to Sun Valley, Idaho for a job as a newspaper reporter. I was quickly named editor, then joined with two other employees to buy the paper, which had been losing $100,000 a year. By investing in state of the art desktop publishing technology and becoming more responsive to local needs, we turned a profit in our first month and never spent another day in the red.
I sold my stake for a profit in order to live my dream of moving to Colorado, where I joined the staff of The Vail Trail newspaper in 1987. Tim Wirth offered me a job shortly after I interviewed him for an article, and I moved to Denver in 1990.
I met my wife, Lois Witte, an environmental attorney, on Earth day in 1990 when she enlisted me as a training partner for Ride the Rockies. We were married one year later on Earth Day, 1991.
We moved from Denver to Lakewood in 2004 to be closer to the mountains and our favorite foothills hiking and mountain biking trails (North Table Mountain and Hayden Park on Green Mountain among them). The fact that Lakewood High School was an easy walk for the boys was an added bonus.
Weekends not spent in the mountains are often devoted to gardening, and bike rides with neighbors.
Lois and I have two grown sons, Brennan and Eliot, who live in Boulder.