The big difference between the candidates running for Benton County Assessor is their background. One is an appraiser; one is an administrator. The office calls for both skill sets. Both offer valuable and different qualifications and each is somewhat lacking in what his or her opponent other has to offer.
Our recommendation is for the administrator.
Mary Phillips has 15 years experience as an administrator in a county government, including 13 years working with Benton County assessor's office. She has a masters degree in Resource Management. She has been building working relationships at the county level and is endorsed by several of them, including commissioners Jim Beaver and Jerome Delvin. (Interesting sidenote: Josie Delvin is endorsing Phillips’ opponent.) She also lists former Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed among her supporters.
Phillips has some ideas for improving the assessor’s office that we like, customer service being one area that calls for improvement. Another of her goals is co-location with the auditor’s and treasurer’s office and cross-training the staff in all three offices.
Her opponent, Bill Spencer, is an appraiser. He has worked in the Franklin County assessor’s office and he has a private appraising firm. His list of endorsements is long and includes many businesses and private residents. If you need your property appraised, he would probably be a good person to see. Or if you need your assessment from the county explained to you, he probably would also do a good job at that, too.
Running a business gives a Spencer good experience, but we don’t fee like it’s enough experience to qualify him to run the Benton County assessors office. And while Phillips doesn’t have the experience is appraising property, there is an entire department of appraisers within the office with expertise in personal property, commercial proper and residential property. There also are departments for levies and exemptions and geographic information system. It takes a long to run a county office.
While Spencer is not a bad candidate and his appraising experience may be useful, Phillips is better suited to oversee the many departments within the office of assessor and is a the better choice.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Mary Phillips for Benton County assessor.