The Republican primary for Tarrant County tax assessor-collector includes four articulate, well-informed candidates.
But it will take more than that to successfully succeed Ron Wright for the two years left in his unexpired term.
This is a big, $173,000-a-year administrative job that requires the officeholder to oversee about 190 employees. Equally challenging will be the ability to send out accurate, timely property tax bills, manage vehicle registrations, and respond to the many property owners irate or confused about what they must pay.
Two of the candidates have the kind of management experience that would help them quickly get their arms around the duties.
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One is former Mansfield council member Wendy Burgess, who says she has supervised up to 800 people through a government contracting business.
The other is former Keller council member Rick Barnes, an insurance agent who has also owned his own leadership training business. He says he has directly supervised about 30 people, and several hundred employees at a time on projects.
Former KXAS/Channel 5 news anchor Mike Snyder should be applauded for organizing and managing a large foundation ball that raises money for families of deployed troops, but we believe he’d have a big learning curve in the tax office. The same is true for Trasa Robertson Cobern, a Hurst council member and teacher, though we don’t doubt that overseeing several hundred students a day requires organization.
All of the candidates pledged to continue a practice of not blocking vehicle registration for motorists with unpaid red light tickets, and they generally agreed on ideas for making the office more efficient.
Mike Snyder and Rick Barnes, however, set themselves apart in other ways, but for different reasons.
Snyder continues to defend his use of false Facebook profiles around 2012 while working as a political consultant. He said he used fake names because he wanted his message and not his name to be the issue.
In an age where we are all trying to figure out when news is factual and when it’s “fake,” his doubling down to defend the use of false information was unacceptable. Do we want a public official who thinks it’s OK to hide behind a false identity?
Barnes stood out for humbly acknowledging he would have a lot to learn, then saying how he’d get up to speed.
He’d immediately meet with the county auditor to determine if all of the practices are above board or something needs to be fixed. And he’d “become part of the process” by spending time with department employees.
“Don’t be surprised that I’ll be standing at a window when you come to pay your taxes, because I want to understand all levels of the operation,” he told us.
Here’s another thing — officials who collect taxes are often targets for angry citizens who may not understand that the assessor doesn’t decide what you’ll pay, but has to collect. Having a sense of humor and knowing how to handle unpleasant situations could go a long way in building good community relations.
Barnes has those skills, too, which is another reason the Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Rick Barnes for Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector.