Isaac wants fourth term as Pitkin County assessor
Tom Isaac announced Friday that he is running for a fourth term in one of the valley’s more obscure, low-key elected positions – Pitkin County assessor.”I enjoy serving the citizens and property owners of Pitkin County,” Isaac said.He said another reason for running is to complete some unfinished projects.The position’s most public job is assessing property values every two years so the state and local governments can levy taxes. Assessors also provide information on ownership, sale history and location of properties.”Contrary to popular belief, I am not the tax man. I value properties,” Isaac said.He pointed out that he is working with the same number of staff members – nine, including him – as he inherited when he took office. That’s despite the fact that the number of parcels in Pitkin County has grown by 50 percent over the same 12-year period. Isaac credits computerization and a hard-working group of employees for the zero growth in employment.The next step in the computerization effort, and Isaac’s biggest unfinished project, is creating a Web site that would allow people to access information about parcels without having to come to his office. A big part of that challenge is the fact that Pitkin County is on the ropes financially and doesn’t have the money necessary to fund Web page development.Isaac said he is exploring the possibility of a public/private partnership, but said he needs to discuss it with the county commissioners before making a move.Isaac was first elected county assessor in 1990, but the 30-year Aspen resident has been a figure in local politics for a lot longer than that.He entered the political scene in 1975 when he was appointed to the city of Aspen’s Planning and Zoning Commission. At that time, the city P&Z was often a magnet for controversy, as a number of major policy decisions and proposals worked their way through the system. “It was an exciting time,” he admitted.He retired from the P&Z in 1977 when he was appointed to the City Council. He served there for two years and then took a six-year hiatus from the political scene. In 1985, he was elected again to the City Council and served one full term before running for the assessor’s office in 1990.He’s worked in the county courthouse ever since.Isaac gets around town and work in a wheelchair. He broke his neck body surfing in Mexico in the early 1980s.With the help of Challenge Aspen, Isaac has been skiing again for six years. He gets around the slopes on a bi-ski, a fiberglass chair mounted atop two skis. A friend, usually middle school Principal Griff Smith, is tethered to Isaac’s equipment just in case he loses control.”Griff’s kind of my brake man – so I don’t go ripping off into the trees,” Isaac said. He skied 21 days this season.Asked if his injuries make his job more difficult, Isaac said, “There are challenges that come with the job in spite of being in a wheelchair. But I pretty much get where I need to go – whether it’s in Redstone or the top of Red Mountain.”
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