Fort Worth

Wendy Burgess wins Republican runoff for top Tarrant tax official

Wendy Burgess
Wendy Burgess

Wendy Burgess claimed an early lead Tuesday night never looked back as she handily claimed the Republican Party's nomination for Tarrant County’s next top tax official.

Burgess drew 56 percent of the vote over Mike Snyder in the GOP battle for Tarrant County Tax Assessor Collector, according to complete but unofficial Tarrant County Elections results.

"It feels fantastic and it also feels very humbling to know I had the support behind me to do this in a low-turnout race," Burgess said late Tuesday night. "I feel very fortunate at this time and ... very appreciative to the people who took the time to turn out and vote for the third time recently."

Snyder said he called Burgess late Tuesday night to congratulate her on her victory and "wish her luck in November."

This election wraps up an already tough, lengthy GOP primary battle. Also on the ballot for this post in November is Democrat Ollie Anderson.

At stake is an unexpired two-year term that runs through 2020 and pays $172,481 plus a $7,884 car allowance.

This job opened up suddenly late last year when Ron Wright, a Republican, resigned to run for the 6th Congressional District.

Wright has been battling in his own primary runoff election, vying against Jake Ellzey, for the Republican Party's nomination to replace U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, in Congress next year. Barton late last year announced that he wouldn’t seek re-election after coming under fire for a nude photo and private messages with sexual overtones with a female constituent.

Big battle

This year's fierce fight to become Tarrant County's Tax Assessor Collector — which began with a crowded primary battle in March — was not a surprise for some.

"Everyone (is) concerned about their taxes and especially this year when so many have had their property taxes escalate due to higher property valuations," said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at UTA.

In the March 6 primary, Burgess and Snyder battled to draw the most votes and make it to the runoff from a field that also included Rick Barnes, a former Keller councilman, and Trasa Robertson Cobern, a Hurst councilwoman and the daughter of “Uncle Si” Robertson on the popular reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

Many people only recognize the name of the tax assessor collector when they pay property tax bills once a year.

But this county office calculates taxes that are due, sends out bills, collects the money and sends revenue collected to local taxing entities. The tax assessor also manages vehicle registrations.

Many are confused, thinking the Tax Assessor Collector sets tax rates, which he or she does not.

The Tarrant Appraisal District sets the values of homes and businesses. And officials in dozens of cites and school boards countywide set the tax rates.

A look at the candidates

Burgess, a former Mansfield city councilwoman, is married to Tarrant County Constable Clint Burgess and is the managing director and owner of IT Services company.

With all 704 precincts reporting, Burgess held on to 56 percent of the vote. Snyder claimed nearly 44 percent, unofficial Tarrant County election results showed.

She picked up a number of endorsements before and after the primary election, including those from County Judge Glen Whitley, Commissioners Gary Fickes and J.D. Johnson, District Clerk Tom Wilder — and former challenger Rick Barnes.

When asked what's next, Burgess said, "Finishing this and then on to November."

This was the first bid for public office for Snyder, a former TV anchorman for KXAS/Ch. 5.

He picked up a number of endorsements since the primary, including those from Julie McCarty, president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, and a large number of precinct chairs.

He has been up front about owing the Internal Revenue Service for early withdrawals from his retirement accounts years ago. He withdrew money to pay for medical bills after his wife, Lyn, had a major heart attack in 2008. He said he knew he would face penalties for withdrawing money early from his account. And while he said he has paid the taxes due on the withdrawal, he still owes for the penalty on the early withdrawal, which he has said is likely less than $40,000 now.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

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