This editorial will appear in Monday’s paper.
This year’s race for Pierce County assessor-treasurer lends itself well to the county’s new ranked choice ballot.
Voters don’t want for choices in the six-way contest. And any partisan considerations that may discourage ranking in other county races don’t apply to the newly nonpartisan assessor-treasurer position.
The News Tribune editorial board sees one clear front-runner in the race and two other candidates who would be up to the task. We’ll discuss them in the order we suggest voters rank them.
First choice: Terry Lee
Lee, elected to the Pierce County Council in 2002 and its current chairman, has a reputation as a principled consensus builder, a voice of reason and an accessible elected official.
It is a measure of the trust and respect Lee engenders among colleagues that he often ends up chairing the boards he joins. His chairmanship of the Pierce County Planning Commission spanned seven years – years in which the commission developed the county’s comprehensive land use plan and several community plans.
Lee, a former construction project manager, has considerable private sector experience managing large staffs and budgets. That makes him a good fit for the assessor-treasurer’s office. So does his work on the Pierce County Council to create a county ombudsman who helps property owners sort through their assessments and his ideas for fine-tuning tax collections.
Second choice: Barbara Gelman
Gelman, also a member of the County Council, is clearly capable. She was assessor-treasurer from 1993 to 2000 before term limits forced her to leave. She led the office through some significant technological upgrades and was a popular boss.
Gelman is an experienced hand who knows the office and would manage it with a focus on customer service. She’s a solid runner-up to Lee.
Third choice: Jan Shabro
A former state representative, Shabro is seeking a return to county government after a six-year absence. She served on the County Council from 1994 to 2002, when she left to run for the Legislature.
Shabro is the only candidate in the race with state government experience. She proposes to use the assessor-treasurer position to advocate for tax relief from the Legislature.
A fourth candidate, Beverly Davidson, has had hands-on experience, having worked in the assessor- treasurer’s office for 16 years. But she has never held a significant leadership post.
In addition to Davidson, the field also includes Bernardo Tuma and Dale Washam.
Our advice in a nutshell: Terry Lee is the best of the bunch, but voters who want to make the most of ranked-choice voting should also take a close look at Barbara Gelman and Jan Shabro.