Scot Kersgaard, candidate for Assessor

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Party: Democrat

City: Lakewood

Profession: Real estate agent

Campaign Website: KersgaardForJeffco.com; Facebook/ScotKersgaardForAssessor

Why are you seeking this office?

I believe the Jefferson County Assessor's office would benefit from my experience in real estate, business, and consulting. The office currently has problems with its technology and with its public image, as evidenced by the fact that a higher percentage of Jefferson County residents appeal their value in a typical year than do residents of similar counties. My commitment to the best available technology, transparency, and two-way communication with residents will pay dividends.

What do you see as the most important part of the county assessor's job?

To provide county residents with fair and accurate assessments. That is spelled out in the State Constitution, and it would be my first priority. The assessor does not set taxes, and does not decide what properties are worth. The assessor's office investigates and reports the fair market values of properties. The market determines those values. The assessor runs the office and sets the tone for how this job is done, and how the public is treated.

What would your top priority be if elected?

After ensuring the fair and accurate valuation of all properties, next is fixing the problems with the current mass appraisal software, or replacing it. Third, creating a much better website, that provides transparency into the process of mass appraisal and helps residents understand how the office determines values. Fourth is offering taxpayers much better communication with the office. All of this will result in greater public confidence in the office and its work.

What challenges do soaring home prices create for the assessor?

When people get notices of value in a rising market, they may be shocked to see values up 20 percent or more over two years. The Gallagher Amendment, though, continues to drive down the assessment rate, and TABOR limits how much taxes can go up in any given year, so even when values go up, taxes change only modestly. The challenge is one of communicating to taxpayers how assessments are done and how values and taxes are determined.

What else should voters know about you?

In addition to my work in real estate, I've co-owned a profitable newspaper, been press secretary to a U.S. senator, and manager of public relations at a Fortune 400 high-tech firm. I've also worked at a local consulting company, working with government agencies on strategic planning initiatives. It is that combination of experience in real estate, business, and consulting that makes me the smart choice for this position.

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