Meet the Candidates for Teller County Assessor, Betty Clark-Wine and Violet Watt

6-3Betty clark wine web

By Beth Dodd

 

6-17 assessor candidate webIncumbent Betty Clark-Wine (R) will face off against political newcomer Violet Watt (R) in the Teller County Assessors primary election on June 24. The vote is by mail, and ballots will be sent out on June 2. You must be a registered republican to vote in this republican primary. Democrats, third party voters, and unaffiliated voters will be able to vote in the general election in November, but by then there will only be one unopposed candidate. That means this primary counts! Vote! The Mountain Jackpot interviewed both candidates to help you make your choice.
Violet Watt

Q. Why are you running for Teller County Assessor?
A. I have worked at the assessor’s office for 5½ years. I am concerned about the upcoming property valuations in 2015 and 2017. They need to be fair. In 2013, 20% of residential property valuations had errors. These significant errors required staff to redo a lot of work. If they had not been able to finish it in time, the county would have failed its audit. Proper oversight of appraisers is needed and separation of duties to prevent bias. I love this county. We deserve the very best in all of our elected positions.

Q. What experiences have you had that qualify you to hold this office?
A. In January 2004, I opened a new business, Iron Mountain Builders, to help build homes. As a business owner, I understand what other business owners go through with taxes, expenses, insurance costs, regulations, and other external pressures. Having worked in the assessor’s office for over five years, I know the ins and outs of how the office works. I have an education in accounting and business administration that I can use to help address organizational issues. Back in 2002, my family experienced a house fire while living in Colorado Springs. Help from the fire department came in just three minutes. After that experience, I know how important it is that the assessor does their job right so that emergency services get the right amount of funding.

Q. What are the biggest challenges the assessor will face in the future?
A. The assessor’s challenges are a matter of maintaining balance. The budget has to be balanced with the level of service that is provided. The interests of the tax payers have to be balanced with the interests of the tax lien authority. These two main conflicts must be properly managed. In the distant future, if the mine ever slows its production levels, the assessor will have to make sure that there is good communication between taxpayers and the county to manage the situation well. However, that would be 20 years from now if it happens.

Q. What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness as a candidate?
A. My strength is that I have hands-on experience at the assessor’s office and in related industries. My weakness is that I don’t have a lot of political experience. This is my first time running for political office, and there has been a learning curve.

Q. Are there any other reasons why people should vote for you?
A. I’ve got the right work experience, the right ethics, and the right principals to stand up for the property owners of Teller County. I am a third generation Colorado native. I have been endorsed by Curt Grina of Pikes Peak Regional Hospital, who is the former chairman of the Teller County Republicans, and Laura Carno of “I Am Created Equal”, an organization which supports the proper role of government in citizen’s lives. If you would like to learn more about me, you can go to www.violetwatt4assessor.com or call (719) 290-9831.

Betty Clark-Wine

Q. Why are you running for Teller County Assessor?
A. My whole career has been about land and real estate. I have worked with distressed property owners and foreclosures. This is an area where I can give back to people because this job is about working with people. Back when I first ran for the assessor’s office in 2010, there was a public outcry about unfair and inequitable treatment. I knew I could use my 38 years of experience to address these concerns.

Q. What experiences have you had that qualify you to hold this office?
A. Land, real estate, and working with people are my passion. I have owned and managed my own real estate company as a broker during the difficult times of the late 1980s and early 1990s during the Savings & Loan crisis when property values were plunging and changing dramatically. I understand market value and market forces. I also worked with CDOT and the City of Colorado Springs, and was involved with the acquisition of property for government use and the relocation of displaced people. I had to review and explain appraisals in order to conduct negotiations. In addition, I have oil and gas land experience. I worked as a “Petroleum Land Man” which included the acquisition of mineral rights, research and clearing of land titles, and negotiation and compliance with contracts.

Q. What are the biggest challenges the assessor will face in the future?
A. The challenge is always to perfect the property valuation process so that all valuations are fair and equitable. With that in mind, the biggest challenge I see is ensuring that the staff are well trained in the modeling (mass appraisal) and valuation process. We are one of a handful of counties that are training their appraisers to do modeling, rather than there being only one person on the staff with this knowledge. This ensures continuity of the knowledge within the office so you are not handicapped if that one person leaves. There are 26,000 parcels of land in Teller County. We use statistical analysis of the sold versus the unsold properties to establish values. This is difficult in Teller with its wide variety of properties. We are in the process of a multi-year training program that started in late 2012, and will continue in 2014 and 2016.

Q. What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness as a candidate?
A. My strength is that I am a problem solver and a decision maker. My weakness is that I believe in giving people second chances, and may sometimes give them too many. I also tend to over-commit my time.

Q. Are there any other reasons why people should vote for you?
A. I focus on solutions, not failures. I am not afraid of change. I want to spend the next four years finishing the job the people hired me to do and preparing the office for the future. Back in 1988 when I was working with oil and gas lands, my Certified Professional Land Man sponsor wrote of me that “Even in times of disagreements, I found her to be fair, honest, and courteous. Her ethical conduct is always the very best. Although we did not always get things we wanted in negotiations, we never came away from the table without knowing Betty told us the truth and tried the best to work out all problems to the mutual satisfaction of all parties.” I want the citizens to know this is still true of me today. I still hold these values.