Coons seeks re-election as county assessor; write-in bows out
Sam Valdez confirmed on Tuesday that he was out of the race for Wahkiakum County Assessor, leaving a sole candidate, incumbent Bill Coons.
Valdez garnered enough write-in votes in the primary election to qualify as a candidate for the general election, but he decided not to seek the job.
"Another business venture showed up at the eleventh hour," Valdez said this week. "I didn't feel like I could give the assessor's job the time it required.
"I'm really kind of disappointed. Bill Coons needs some competition."
Coons grew up in Marin, just north of San Francisco. He studied electrical engineering at UC Berkeley and worked for a couple of telecommunication companies in Silicon Valley.
While traveling with his former wife, they fell in love with a home on Puget Island. In 1993 they moved to Cathlamet and he found a way to contribute at his office down south by supporting international distributors.
“Cathlamet has always kind of felt like home,” Coons said.
Retirement led to some adventures, but after a while he longed for something to do.
Coons turned to real estate, working for Lower Columbia Realty for four or five years. He got his broker’s license and joined the Board of Equalization, where he took advantage of an opportunity to take classes offered by the Department of Revenue, eventually becoming an accredited appraiser.
In 2010, he was elected to the position of County Assessor.
“I really like my job,” Coons said. “It is a challenge. The last four years were a challenge. A lot of work got put on the shelf when an employee was cut to part time. I restructured my office to fit within the budget that we had. We cleaned up the backlog and reorganized the office and were able to evaluate the entire county.”
Instead of relying on someone to do the fieldwork for him, Coons frequently inspects properties himself. Michelle Budd, Deputy Clerk for the Assessor’s Office, is frequently with him.
“I’m a very hands on working assessor,” Coons said. “But for a variety of reasons, I like inspecting properties with somebody. It helps our productivity.”
“I’ve got to give a lot of praise to my team,” he continued. “Marsha Souvenir knows that office inside and out. Michelle has the real estate background and has grown really well into the appraisal role. And Sharon Deaton regularly saves my bacon. She has worked with me off and on, and has a knack for computers and projects. She certainly understands the nuts and bolts of this work.”
If re-elected, he hopes to spend the next four-year term refining the process of annual re-evaluation.
“Right now it's kind of a one size fits all, but I might be able to fine tune that,” Coons said. “It’s an important job that has to be done. It’s all about fairness to me. There’s the tax burden. It’s there. Let’s spread it fairly. That’s what I really strive for.”