This is Reno profiled candidates for select local races in the 2018 mid-term elections. Student political writer Don Dike-Anukam attended a number of political events in recent months to track down candidates, learn about issues, and to see what those in the races had to say about topics being faced by the Reno community. While this election remains contentious around the country, at the local level many Reno-area candidates tended to focus more on issues and less on mudslinging. Here are the two candidates for the Washoe County Assessor: Chip Evans versus incumbent Mike Clark.
By Don Dike-Anukam
Washoe County Assessor Mike Clark is running for re-election to “… Provide excellent public service through complete, accurate, and timely assessments of all property subject to taxation.” That mission is a goal Clark said he strives for everyday.
Clark has deep roots in Northern Nevada. He’s been active in the area for over 30 years in real estate, mortgage, and property management. He has practical experience in real estate and real estate terms, financing, values, and real market situations. He’s held companies in Minden, Gardnerville, Carson City, Fallon — the entire Northern Nevada real estate market, in fact. His first Nevada residence was in Gardnerville.
He admits to having “no intention of ever becoming and elected official or politician,” especially having dealt with difficult economic downturn with Washoe County property values plummeting by 60 percent.
Clark said he eased naturally into his role by questioning the acting county assessor about his own property; he felt that it was being overvalued. Clark won several appeal hearings, all of which are available on public record.
Clark doesn’t show any timidity in saying that he’s comfortable in courtroom and hearing situations. He said he grew tired of the hearing and appeal processes and wanted to ensure that everyone would be treated fairly in these situations. It was at that time he decided to run for assessor. He said he runs his office on the principles of listening to taxpayers, exhibiting thoughtfulness, and showing an openness to adjustments.
He shared that the county is bogged down in lawsuits which are ticking time bombs that need to be addressed.
“That is going to take somebody willing to work with both parties, county commissioners and taxpayers,” he said. “To reach an amicable agreement. If no agreement is reached, there will be extremely negative results.”
Lawsuits have cost Washoe County $45 million dollars in repayments, he said — the cost of an elementary school.
Clark also cited concerns of a proposed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 14), which seeks to take off the property tax caps for home sales and purchases. The amendment/bill would have the new buyer pay the property tax of valuation at purchase not over time as in the past. Clark said he has seen estimates from a 76 to 232% rise in price of home as a result of this. He said that this type of tax policy has been tried elsewhere in the nation (San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago) and that “it hasn’t worked anywhere else (so) why are we doing it.”
Clark said that he plans to win by talking to his neighbors and getting involved in a grassroots sort of way. Clark is ready to face challenges that come along with new technology implementation, and he’s also available to talk via phone or in person. Roughly half of the County Assessor’s front desk staff is bilingual. When asked why taxpayers should vote for him, Clark cited his track record and how it matches up with what he says: “When actions match up with words, that’s where you find truth.”
Submitted by Chip Evans
Washoe’s competent Assessor’s staff is doing a good job providing fair and honest property assessments. The bad news is that my opponent is poorly regarded by local elected officials, a good number of his staff and members of our state legislature. In this time when property tax reforms are being considered in the legislature, Clark’s poor relationships, diminished stature and questionable trustworthiness are bad news for all Washoe County residents.
As your new Assessor, I will provide credible leadership and be a strong voice for Washoe County. Outcomes of the state legislature’s property-related discussions are sure to impact us differently than Clark County and Nevada’s rural communities. Clark boasts about declining the legislature’s invitation to testify about a proposed property tax reforms. Think about that. I will be your full-time Assessor who will show up for these critical conversations.
My vision is to expand the Assessor’s office to conduct new levels of analyses and research to inform our legislature’s property tax reform discussions. I’m a straight shooter you can count on to give you the unbiased facts. I will ensure our elected officials, school boards, and you understand how any proposed changes may affect you and Washoe residents.
I have received support from Washoe County Commissioners, the Association of General Contractors of Nevada, Northern Nevada’s Central Labor Council, and many other community members, leaders and organizations.
My opponent would have you believe he is due credit for reducing the number of assessment appeals, but that is misleading. The fact is that the number of appeals go up in a falling market and down in a rising market. We’ve had a rising market since Clark came into office. The chair of the Board of Equalization, the group that considers property tax appeals, endorses my candidacy and does not give Clark credit for the falling number of appeals.
Clark has drawn widespread bipartisan opposition to his re-election, including from members of his own staff. They report that he’s rarely in the office. Two staff members even ran against him in the primary, one Republican and one Democrat.
Clark currently operates three real estate businesses. Washoe County voters must decide whether anyone with substantial financial interests in real estate should hold this office. Almost universally this is considered a very bad idea. It creates the appearance of impropriety and raises conflict of interest concerns. He could not be an Assessor’s receptionist in Salt Lake, Denver, Boise, Las Vegas or many other jurisdictions.
I do not operate any side businesses in real estate, which means I will not have any conflicts of interest, and I will be working for you full-time.
Like my opponent, I enter this role not as a certified Assessor. Instead, I bring real estate experience as a buyer, seller, investor, manager and developer in multiple states. I also bring years of business management and executive leadership experience. More importantly, I bring knowledge and understanding of Washoe County from my years of deep involvement in our community.
As your next Washoe County Assessor, I will be a strong voice for you. I will work hard to inform and protect our communities. I will work full-time and bring absolutely no conflicts of interest. Most of all, I will bring integrity and nonpartisanship back to the assessor’s office.