The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Former assessor reflects on the job


September 13, 2018

To The Eagle:

In 1978, I had the pleasure of going to work in the Wahkiakum County Assessor’s Office. Iris Hedlund had been named the assessor, and she brought on Kathy Peek as her appraiser and myself as clerk.

I served as clerk from 1978/1986. In 1986, Kathy left to be an appraiser in another county. Iris insisted I take the place of the appraiser. I was hesitant to do so, knowing how difficult the job could be. Time was spent going out with Kathy on many visits for property valuation. The job of appraiser meant schooling and training required by the Washington Dept. of Revenue. Passing the appraisal test was arduous. Every two years, appraisers were required to take classes to upgrade and keep the appraisal certificate. For four years, every part of Wahkiakum County was visited, meeting tax payers and explaining my job.

In 1989, Iris retired as assessor, and the position came to me, still holding on to the valid appraisal certificate. It meant, that as the assessor, I, too, could still continue to appraise. Other schooling was continued, diving into learning the Washington Administrative Codes, rules and regulationa, and serving in two positions with Washington State Assessor’s Association. Knowledge was the rule, the rule was critical for a just and reasonable way of taxation. The association kept a sharp eye on the legislature. If there was reason to believe the tax payers were not treated in a just way, WSAA responded.

The position of a county assessor in a small county is difficult. At one point, during an assessor association dinner, the King County Assessor, turned to me and said “I admire your determination and willingness to serve your small county. I’m assessor in King County. I have many employees to do the work. I’ve heard you talk about all that is required of you, yet, I am able to sit back and let others do the work for me.” That comment was a memorable moment.

The reason this history is shared is to make sure voters understand the need for an experienced assessor. This county does not need to go backward, as happened in 2007/2010, with the Department of Revenue intervening.

I encourage all to vote, no matter your opinion. It is your opinion.

Kay Cochran



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