14,695 Reasons to Run for Local Office

Barbara Liebler believes she has a unique built-in constituency in her bid for arguably the least sexy elected position in local government – County Assessor.

For such a low profile race it has generated quite a bit of attention. Namely because of the 14,695 property tax protests lodged last year in Larimer County. Thus, continuing the county’s unchallenged streak as the property tax appeal capital of Colorado. Democratic candidate Liebler joined me for an interview and a cold lemonade break between blockwalking Fort Collins neighborhoods in 100-degree heat.

CC: You served on the city councils of both Fort Collins and Loveland and several local commissions in the 1980s and 1990s, why are you running for Larimer County Assessor after a 10 year break from politics?
BL: I decided to run last November after reading a story in the paper about all the appeals. Larimer County has had the worst record in the state since 1999. That’s unacceptable.

CC: Since you were unopposed in the primary you’ve been actively campaigining for several weeks. How many voters do you think that you’ve reached so far?
BL: I’ve walked eight precincts and have made almost 8,000 voter contacts with about 60 percent of those face to face.

CC: What has that experience been like?
BL: It’s interesting that hardly anybody asks what an assessor does. Most people start telling me their stories.

I met a lady recently in Red Feather Lakes. She has a 100-year-old cabin that has been in her family for three generations. New people are moving in to the area building bigger and nicer homes in the mountains. She can’t afford to live there anymore because her property taxes are going up.

CC: The Republican assessor candidates — one the incumbent and the other his predecessor — have made a bloodsport of criticizing one another’s tenure as assessor. What platform are you running on?
BL: I am a broad picture person with land use and economic development backgrounds.

There is too much friction and confusion in the assessor’s office with other county departments about responsibilities. Mutual cooperation, training, and quality control would be more efficient.

Some work is being outsourced. I would cancel the contract. Also, the previous assessor [GOP candidate Steve Miller] fashions himself a statistical analyst. I believe he’s not skilled enough to perform regression analysis and is a major reason why there were record numbers of appeals when he was in office.

CC: What do you think your chances are in November?
BL: I’m optimistic. With my political experience on the Loveland and Fort Collins’ city councils, I know how to get things done in a government setting. This race is on people’s minds.

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Wendy Norris

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