/ Modified sep 29, 2016 5:04 a.m.

Incumbents Face Newcomers for Pima Assessor, Recorder

Elections for these crucial county offices have received little attention.

Public Service Center The new Public Service Center houses different offices including the Pima County assessor, recorder and treasurer.
Tony Paniagua, AZPM

Several races in November’s election are so high profile they’ve been widely reported on for the past year. Others are more obscure but still important, like the races for Pima County assessor and recorder.

The assessor's office assigns values to properties. Those values are used to determine how much property owners must pay in county, school district and other taxes.

Two candidates are in the running for that job: Democratic incumbent Bill Staples and independent Suzanne Droubie.

Droubie said she has 23 years of experience in the real estate industry, including seven years as an appraiser in the assessor's office.

"Over the years, I’ve seen the assessor’s office deteriorating in terms of customer service."

She said there are a number of other reasons she's running as well.

"Taxpayers are not being listened to, we have transparency issues right now in the assessor’s office."

Incumbent Bill Staples has held the assessor's job for the past 12 years. He said he disagrees with Droubie’s assessment of his office’s transparency.

"Everyone's value - both the real property and the personal property rolls are available. Every sale that’s recorded in Pima County is available. I just don’t know how much more transparent this office can be."

Staples has staked his campaign on his experience.

"The most important for my job is the ability to administrate over 100 employees that need to be impartial as they value all property within Pima County," he said.

Droubie said she’s running as "an assessor for the people."

"I’m going to be an assessor that is going to make sure that your value is done properly and is valued with the market that’s attributed to Pima County."

The county recorder’s race also features a long-time incumbent being challenged by a lesser known candidate.

The Recorder's Office is responsible for voter registration and voting by mail across Pima County. The office also maintains all land transaction titles for the region.

Democratic incumbent F. Ann Rodriguez is facing Green Party candidate Mike Cease.

Cease’s background is in engineering. He said he can sum up his interest in the recorder’s job in two words:

"Citizen participation," he said. "I believe this is the foundation of democracy and we have close to 300,000 citizens that aren’t yet registered to vote. So I believe democracy is not being well served when this many of our citizens are not even registered to participate in the electoral process at all."

Cease said as recorder, he would make voter registration his top priority and he’d do that by analyzing census data with voter registration data…

"And identifying which areas of Pima County are being most underserved in terms of voter registration, and that’ll give us a map to outreach to our community for this registration drive."

Rodriguez is seeking her seventh four-year term in office.

She said she has worked to modernize the office since 1993 when she started there.

"Mainly everything was done by hand, paper, transactions. Now we do a lot of things electronically, both voter registration and land transactions."

She said her priority will be to continue that push to modernization.

"I hope to one day do all ballot by mail elections as we know now the trend is most people are voting entirely by mail. Very few like to go to the traditional polling places."

Rodriguez saod many people on the permanent early voting list get their ballots but never return them and she’d like to see higher voter participation in that group, particularly in local elections.

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