This time four years ago, our local newspaper of record pulled out all of the stops in their effort to smear and denigrate then County Assessor candidate, Peter Van Nortwick. They spared little ink accusing him of engaging in “attack dog campaigning” which he masterfully turned around on them, walking through the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands blaring out the song, “Who Let The Dogs Out.”
Editor ‘Lefty’ Lou Brancaccio went after him over a past divorce accusing him of not being able to get along with others.
The Lazy C even tried tying him to then private citizen, now County Commissioner David Madore as well as the much hated State Senator from the 17th district, Republican Don Benton.
Their efforts failed and Peter Van Nortwick easily sailed to victory by a 5% margin, over 6,500 votes.
Fast forward to 2014 and lo and behold, proving once again the old adage of even a broken clock is right twice a day, the Lazy C endorses Van Nortwick for reelection, now saying, “Peter Van Nortwick has compiled a notable list of accomplishments,” “Nortwick has built up strong credentials to suggest that he should remain in office” and “Van Nortwick clearly has grown into the job over the past four years.”
Apparently, that isn’t good enough for challenger Darren Wertz, a Ridgefield city councilor who tried to run for County Commissioner in 2012 and was defeated in the primary.
Reading in my Election Predictions post “Wertz has not articulated any viable reason to elect him over Van Nortwick,” Wertz decided to contact me personally by email recently.
In his allegations against Van Nortwick he claimed, “I have proven commitment to the property owner, documented skills and qualifications.”
What he doesn’t say in that claim is how often he voted to raise property taxes on property owners, a significantly high number I am led to believe.
Van Nortwick has over this four year tenure demonstrated an impressive ability to “live within his means” and actually lowering the expenses of the Assessor’s Office while maintaining efficiency.
I was recently informed the Assessor’s Office is “on track to have $1 Million in salary and benefits savings alone” while Wertz’s office was required to seek and receive “$42,000 to get his office through the year.”
Wertz tried to allege in the email “Over the last four years of the 77 cases appealed to the State Board of Tax Appeals by the assessor, the assessor was found to be correct only 5 times.”
I approached Van Nortwick with this allegation and received the reply, “We had one case which we took to the State to get clarification on that involved 2 subdivisions being used as mobile home parks and do we value them on a sales comparison approach or an income approach. The State ruled to value them all on an income approach. When they ruled it applied to about 70 parcels. That’s why when I pushed at the Columbian and said only about 5 he didn’t push it because he would have to admit that at the 6 times I argued on my appeals before the Board of State tax appeals I prevailed 5 of the 6 times. It is just with the Sub-division the parcels are such an overwhelming number it allows him to try to act like I don’t prevail before the State Board of Tax Appeals. He is intentionally being deceptive which is why when pushed on it he backed off.”
I would conclude Wertz is desperate as well as deceptive.
Even the Lazy C states “Wertz struggles to make a case that proves the Assessor’s Office is unfair or inefficient. As a 2014 levy audit by the state Department of Revenue found, ‘It is apparent that the Assessor takes great care in ensuring that the levy calculations are within the limits of the law’.”
Replying to Wertz’s email that I read nothing in his email to me that “I see nothing convincing enough for me to change my stance” that Van Nortwick will easily win the election, especially seeing that Van Nortwick bested him by some 9%, I received back a reply of, “What your response seems to be saying to me is that although you know the engine needs work you are satisfied to pay for another wax job and hope things turn out ok.”
No Mr. Wertz, what it really means is that I see Van Nortwick has been doing a good job, even recognized by the local newspaper of record that thoroughly tried to trash him last election.
It means that Peter Van Nortwick has displayed his ability to perform the office well and get the job done.
It doesn’t mean that I will always agree with him as there is no one I always agree with.
I realize you both seek accuracy and that 100% valuation of property is the law and what is sought.
But I also realize that absolute perfection is unattainable, even by you.
And while perfection will never be achieved, that Van Nortwick’s office received a rating of 96% from the State Department of Revenue, one of the highest ratings in the state, indicates he merits reelection.
Sorry Mr. Wertz, but you have not given any convincing reason to elect you over Peter Van Nortwick.
Not to me or the paper.