This role can be controversial because when the perceived value of a property increases, the percentage-based property tax rates mean that more must be paid.
Mr. Wolf, who won the Republican nomination for assessor, plans to use the role to improve the county.
“ The assessor’s role is to assess values and make sure you are valuing the property in the county correctly, so what I want to do is find a way to reduce the property tax burden, especially on businesses, so we get more business growth in the county,” Mr. Wolf said in an Aug. 29 phone interview. “ The barrier of entry for a lot of these businesses is too high. I want to work with the counties and the cities, just everybody that wants to help facilitate economic growth. Those moving into Pinal County need to have a clear picture of what their burden would be if they moved their business here.”
He thinks that working to lower the property tax rate is a good way to bring in businesses and stimulate the economy.
“In the role of assessor, I won’t have the authority to reduce or change the tax structure. That’s controlled by the state of Arizona,” he said.
But the assessor has certain influences with various authorities on state, county and city levels that he plans to exercise as much as possible, he said.
“In that capacity, all I can do is advize, but I can go up to them and they will have new members at the time, and help them understand all the effects of a policy before we make a decision. We need to clearly annunciate what the ramifications are going to be,” he said. “I’m for lower taxes, but we need to make sure we do it in the right way.”
One of the problems Mr. Wolf must deal with is the higher than average tax rate in Pinal County.
Pinal has the second highest property tax burden in the state, Mr. Wolf said. The highest belongs to Maricopa County.
Besides economic growth, Mr. Wolf sees the potential in the county’s website, http:// pinalcountyaz.gov/Pages/Home.aspx.
“I want to make sure the website is much more up to date for people trying to use them for their businesses, so Realtors, developers, and homeowners can all know why they are being taxed the way they are,” Mr. Wolf said.
Mr. Wolf doesn’t think that Mr. Robbins would make the best assessor.
“I don’t know him personally, but he obviously is the kind of person who would vote for President Obama and redistributing the wealth with higher taxes,” he said.
“He has experience working with the county, but that’s not necessarily a positive thing because I don’t think the county government has been run very well, so he is a part of the problem, not the solution.”
Mr. Wolf has a bachelor of science in business administration and 25 years of experience in commercial and residential real estate sales and leasing, plus 28 years in the technology businesses.
Mr. Wolf ’s opponent is Mr. Robbins, the candidate from the Democrats. He has a bachelor of science in business admin-istration from the University of Arizona, a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix, and is a doctoral candidate.
Mr. Robbins thinks that spending time working for the county will give him an edge in the general election.
“I’ve spent four years working in Pinal’s IT department, working closely with other members of county staff, including the assessor’s office. In that time, I became very familiar with the inner working of that office,” Mr. Robbins said in a Sept. 4 phone interview. “Now, I want to run for the assessor because I’ve always been fascinated with real estate. I’ve always been curious as a personal investor or as a business owner,” he said.
Mr. Robbins also feels the county’s website is lacking, agreeing with Mr. Wolf.
“One of my major goals is to make the city’s website user friendly. When citizens want to see how their property is being assessed, I want them to be able to have that information available to them. They need to know the rules the assessor uses,” Mr. Robbins said.
Mr. Robbins plans that the website will utilize a unique login ID and password combination that should offer a simple and secure way for county residents to view their relevant property information.
“ There are some very, very talented programmers over at the county,” he said. “If you want to go online, look at your house, and learn how they reached the conclusion with your assessment, people will have that at their fingertips.”
Mr. Robbins ran unopposed in the primaries, which he feels has prepared him for the general election.
“I didn’t have an opponent in the primaries, so I knew that my real race was going to be later. As soon as I declared my intention to run, my real race began,” he said. “I’ve been using this time to prepare and learn about who my opponent is going to be. I wasn’t sure, but I had a pretty good idea that my opponent would be Mr. Wolf, so I’ve been out there campaigning and going to events.”
Mr. Robbins’ opinion of Mr. Wolf is positive, but he feels that his government experience will give him an edge in the general elections.
“I’m sure Mr. Wolf is an experienced candidate and brings some things to the table, but so do I, and I might bring those same things to the table differently. From what I’ve learned about him, he doesn’t have the experience working with the county government like me,” he said.
By Alexander Foote