Bannock County clerk, assessor, treasurer candidates debate

September 20, 2018
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Jason Dixon

POCATELLO — Changing a “toxic” work environment and ending a current practice of hiring outside help to conduct commercial appraisals would be top priorities for both Democrat Margie Woolf and Republican Sheri Davies, who are running for Bannock County assessor.

They were among six candidates vying for county offices in the Nov. 6 election who squared off in a Monday night debate that was sponsored by the Pocatello League of Women Voters.

Republican Dan Rainey and Democrat Jennifer Clark, candidates for county treasurer, emphasized the importance of investing county revenue safely and wisely.

Democrat Sean Fay and Republican Jason Dixon, candidates for county clerk, vowed they have the experience to prepare fiscally responsible county budgets.

Woolf has worked in the assessor’s office for seven years and has experience in personal, residential and commercial property. She’s also certified as a property tax appraiser by the state.

“There are some inequities in values in Bannock County due to our outside appraisal system and a lack of indexing,” Woolf said. “That’s something we do need to fix.”

Davies, who has worked as a real estate agent in Pocatello for 26 years and has twice served as president of the Greater Pocatello Association of Realtors, believes she would bring a badly needed “fresh start” to the office.

“The work environment in the assessor’s office is toxic right now,” Davies said.

Davies and Woolf both agree that it’s time for the county to end the practice of outsourcing commercial appraisals to a person from Idaho Falls. Davies said the practice is also costly.

“I don’t know what the exact answer is, but it can’t be that,” Davies said.

Davies said she’d also emphasize improved budgeting transparency and would bring an “open-door” approach.

Woolf spoke at length about the need to add more personnel to the county’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Woolf believes the county’s high tax levy is one of the greatest challenges facing the community, serving as a disincentive to business growth. She said the assessor can make life better for taxpayers by ensuring “all property (assessments) in Bannock County are fair and equitable across the board.”

In the treasurer’s race, Rainey, who came to Pocatello to earn a finance degree at Idaho State University, touted his experience in the military, having served two tours in Iraq. Rainey audited the defense travel system for the U.S. Army, overseeing 7,500 personal travel requests and a $26 million budget.

As treasurer, Rainey said he would “look at our investments really closely.” He would assess risk, interest rates, the diversity of the county’s portfolio and transparency. Rainey warned that wise investing will become more important if the economy takes a bad turn.

Clark highlighted the effective job the treasurer’s office is already doing, describing how the office “balances to the penny” and offers friendly customer service. She said she’s also experienced at “investing funds for Bannock County in a safe and secure manner.”

“We are going to have a new clerk, treasurer, assessor and one new county commissioner for sure this year,” Clark said. “It’s imperative that someone with working knowledge within the county is one of the new elected officials.”

In the clerk’s race, Fay stressed the importance of “maintaining voting rights” and making certain the community’s early voting system doesn’t change. Fay was a state debate champion at Pocatello High School who earned a political science degree from ISU and worked for a small environmental remediation firm before joining ISU as an analyst.

Fay, a self-proclaimed “super numbers dorky dude,” also assured voters that the county’s voting machines are safe and secure from outside threats.

Dixon, a Highland High School graduate who also served with the Army National Guard’s 1-148th Field Artillery Regiment, said he would work to deliver an “upbeat and happy work environment,” arguing that most of the job would involve dealing with people.

He has long worked as a local Realtor. He said he would also work with the county commissioners to produce a fiscally responsible budget.

He believes his positive demeanor would be an asset to the county.

“Not many people can get me upset,” Dixon said.

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