Democrats launch barbs before assessor primary
Summit County Assessor Barbara Kresser claims former assessor Ron Perry had a chance to leave his mark on the office but, instead, quit to run for a seat on the County Commission.
Kresser and Perry face off June 27 in a primary election that pits the incumbent against the man she replaced 15 years ago.
"Ron served one term in the Assessor’s Office and he didn’t want it any more," Kresser said. "He walked away from it. One term was all that he was good for."
But Perry said he was appointed to the office in the mid-1980s and elected later to serve a four-year term.
"The only reason I left the assessor’s office, is, I thought, in the best interest of the county, I would run for Summit County commissioner as a Democratic candidate against the incumbent Republican who had no opponent," Perry said, adding that he won a seat on the commission in 1990.
He insists his expertise would benefit employees in the Assessor’s Office.
"Nobody likes change and anytime you change command in these positions everybody is nervous," Perry said, rejecting notions that if elected he would "clean house" by firing current staffers. "I have the knowledge to further their abilities in different areas of appraisal because I’ve done everything. I would like to train certain individuals on how to effectively defend values."
Kresser was elected to replace Perry as assessor about 15 years ago.
"I encouraged her to run and I supported her," Perry said.
By appraising property the assessor is critical to determining how much taxes landowners in Summit County must pay.
"When the market’s been up, when the market’s been down, we’ve been here doing our job on the side of the taxpayers of Summit County," Kresser said. "For someone to say it’s not a good office or we’re not doing our job, that’s not true."
Meanwhile, she could have avoided a primary had one more delegate voted for her at the Democrats’ county convention in April, Kresser claimed.
"The people who should have been there were not there," she said.
Perry is not prepared to operate computer appraisal systems installed recently in the Assessor’s Office, Kresser said, adding, "he has no idea."
"[Perry] is still living and thinking the assessor’s job is what it was when he was here 20, 16 years ago," she said.
Perry countered, "to say that I can’t keep up with the information technology is not true."
"It’s not as technical as [Kresser] wants to make it sound," he said.
Perry added that he has always intended to reclaim the assessor’s post. He said he decided to run when Kresser announced her retirement last year.
"When she changed her mind, I didn’t change mine," Perry said.
Kresser says her staff nearly half worked under Perry — begged her to run again.
"They were the ones who came to me and said, ‘Barbara, you cannot allow Ron Perry here,’" Kresser said.
Whoever wins the Democratic Primary could face West Side Republican Eugene Lambert for the assessor’s post on Election Day. Lambert has endorsed Kresser and hinted that he would drop out of the contest if Kresser defeats Perry next week.
Voters in Summit County will use touch-screen voting machines for the first time on Tuesday. Ballots can be cast early in Coalville at the County Courthouse at 60 North Main.
The early voting ends Friday at 4:30 p.m., Summit County Clerk Sue Follett said.
Republicans and Democrats conduct separate primaries June 27 and only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP’s closed primary.
Anyone can vote in the Democratic election.
Other partisan races on Tuesday’s ballot include:
State Senate District 26: Republicans David Ure and Kevin Van Tassell
State House District 25: Democrats Josh Ewing and Christine Johnson
Summit County clerk: Democrats Kent Jones and Cindy LoPiccolo
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