26 March 2014

Kevin Jacobs - Candidate for Salt Lake County Assessor

First Meeting, 25 March 2014

Kevin Jacobs and Jake Parkinson are both vying to be the Republican candidate for Salt Lake County Assessor.  A few months ago (September if my memory serves), the former county assessor, Lee Gardner resigned.  There were four names that were being considered and both Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Parkinson were on the short list.  Mr. Jacobs was appointed by the Republican party and has been serving there for the last 6-7 months.

Lee Gardner served in that position for 19 years preceding his resignation; Mr. Jacobs worked in the assessor's office during that entire time (23 years total).

I only had a few minutes to talk with Mr. Jacobs, and I'm planning on going to a second meet-the-candidates so that I can get more time with him.  However, here is what I was able to learn in those few minutes:

Mr. Jacobs believes he is the better pick due to his experience in the office.  Having worked in the largest county for the last 23 years including 7 months in the position he believes proves that he can do the job and do it well.

Specifically, he believes that the scale at which he operates in Salt Lake County introduces elements to the job that aren't present in Tooele County, where Mr. Parkinson has been operating.  He cited Salt Lake County requires organizational support for monitoring of assessors and quality assurance of their assessments, which a small county like Tooele wouldn't need.

An issue that the assessor's office is coping with right now is new growth.  In the areas of new growth--for example, Daybreak--there is a great deal of assessment to do (new homes being built, etc.), and it is difficult to get accurate assessments.  One anecdote shared by Mr. Parkinson was a successful appeal for a 25% reduction in the home's value.  Mr. Jacobs proposes to fix this problem by organizing assessors into units of geographic expertise, combating misleading statistical data with personal intuition.

I had a moment to talk with his wife as well.  I gleaned that in the past 24 years, Kevin Jacobs has served strictly in management positions in the assessor's office.  He has never been an appraiser himself but has his appraiser's license.

A question in my mind is if the Republican party picked Mr. Jacobs 7 months ago over Mr. Parkinson, what would I need in order to effectively overturn that decision? I need to do more research to find out their motives back in September.

Mr. Jacobs general attitude seems to be that the changes he's orchestrated over the last few months should be sufficient.  He asserts that seven months is not enough time to disprove his ability to resolve the concerns Mr. Parkinson raises.

Second Meeting - 9 April 2014

This meeting convinced me to vote for Mr. Jacobs over Mr. Parkinson.  The meeting was actually with Mr. Jacob's chief deputy.

We discussed some falsehoods (which I have personally verified) that Mr. Parkinson has been stating to demonstrate his ability to run an office better than Mr. Jacobs.  Specifically, I believe his dollars per parcel comparison to be incorrect, his statement about the SLCo office defying statute to be incorrect, and his promise to fix the appeal process to be half-empty (since the appeal process isn't under the direction of the SLCo assessor).

Sadly, I'm running late for convention.  More on this later.