Democrats show up to challenge for more county offices this year.
At a recent forum for candidates for Larimer County office, the moderator paused to remember who had already answered his question and who still needed to go.
As he was sorting it out, a response came from the panel in the Fort Collins City Council Chambers: It’s OK. There are a lot of us up here.
This election year has more contested races for Larimer County offices than any other this century. Democrats are challenging for the clerk and recorder job for the first time in 20 or more years — longer than the county’s online files go back, at least. Same for county treasurer. The Larimer County Assessor’s Office is contested for only the second time this century, the first time since 2006.
The Democrats haven’t recently challenged for county offices aside from commissioner. Coming out of the March party assembly, they almost had a full slate, though candidates for sheriff and coroner ended up not panning out.
Still, Larimer County voters will have more choice in who they want to steer key county offices.
Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers, a Republican, is trying to hold onto her job against Democratic challenger Dan Sapienza. Treasurer Irene Josey, also a Republican, is trying to keep her 30-plus year tenure in that office going against Rick Bohn, who threw his hat in the ring at the Larimer County Democrats’ party assembly. And in the assessor’s race, Republican Chief Deputy Assessor Alexis Smith is making a foray into the elected head job against Democratic Fort Collins City Council member Bob Overbeck.
Here’s a glance at the candidates, taken from a Larimer County League of Women Voters forum:
Larimer County Clerk and Recorder
What the job entails: Overseeing local election operations; managing the recording and citizen information center, which handles things such as marriage and pet licenses, passports and county liquor licenses; and managing the vehicle licensing center, which handles titling and registering vehicles.
Why Democrat Dan Sapienza is running: “When you’re looking for a leader of an organization of nearly 100 staff, a budget of nearly $10 million … you want this person to have vision.
”You want that person to not just look at that role as administrative, but be a leader who can take that organization into the future and not just rest on the laurels of past successes.”
Why Republican Angela Myers is running: “The Clerk and Recorder’s office is a very complex office. Every single division that is under my purview is very, very technical and very complex and very challenging. We have unprecedented citizen satisfaction with the services we’ve given you over the past five years, we’ve had unprecedented change in the office, unprecedented evolution in the office. Every single system in the office has been upgraded. There are so many successes to build on. I think proven ability in this office is critical. This is an administrative office, not a policy office. I’ve been very clear about my focus on making sure we are not partisan at all, that every citizen is treated the same, and giving every single citizen a quality service.”
Larimer County Treasurer
What the job entails: Mailing property tax statements, collecting and distributing property taxes, and managing county investments.
Why Democrat Rick Bohn is running: “I look forwarding to bringing the job outside of the office, to not just be a bureaucrat but to actually be an advocate for the people of Larimer County.”
Why Republican Irene Josey is running: “I love my job as Larimer County treasurer, and I love the people I work with and for, and I hope to continue doing that job for you … Working my way up from clerk to the elected position as a female has been quite an accomplishment, and I feel very proud of that.”
Larimer County Assessor
What the job entails: Valuing all real and personal property, including mobile homes, residential and commercial properties, and agricultural land for property tax purposes.
Why Democrat Bob Overbeck is running: “I have five and a half years of leadership on the Fort Collins City Council and I want to bring that innovation into the county … I’m going to change the status quo in the assessor’s office. Now I’m looking for innovation all the time. If you look at Oklahoma County, out of 330,000 parcels and a population twice that of Larimer County, they only had 150 appeals. That’s right, 150 appeals. And this office had 19,000 appeals and it increased 30 percent.
“Everyone from around the world is visiting this Oklahoma office to find out what they’re doing right. I plan on going out there when I’m elected to make sure we can bring this innovation and change into this office and make sure we serve the taxpayers the way they should.”
Why Republican Alexis Smith is running: “Because I’ve been in the office for 17 years, I know what an assessor does. I want to make sure that we continue the successes and we build on some of the improvements that we’ve made over the last several years. We’ve got statutory deadlines and strong real estate markets. Everyone who’s in the market to sell the property knows what it’s worth, but when you get your notice of value and you haven’t been trying to sell your property, sometimes there is that sticker shock. I want our office to be there to answer those questions, and that’s why we continue to make sure we have an open protest process, so that you can conveniently protest your property and get answers from our office when you have a question.”