Longtime Pitkin County assessor back in town after medical issue
November 13, 2016
After months spent recuperating from an undisclosed medical issue in Denver, Pitkin County Assessor Tom Isaac is back in town and has even made an appearance or two in his office in recent weeks, an official said.
"It was good to see him and he looks good," said Larry Fite, the chief appraiser for the Assessor's Office who served as acting assessor in Isaac's absence. "It's a huge relief not only for him (to be back) but also for us to see him back in the saddle."
Isaac, who has been paralyzed from the neck down since a body-surfing accident in Mexico in 1982, suffered "a significant health issue" in late May, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. He was hospitalized in Denver while he dealt with those "medical challenges," said Griff Smith, one of Isaac's close friends.
"It's a significant amount of time the office has been operating without Tom being able to be there," Peacock said. "It's obviously a serious issue, but nothing at this point leads us to believe he won't make a full recovery and return to work."
Many have seen him speeding along the sidewalk in his wheelchair near the Pitkin County Courthouse in recent weeks, and his reappearance appears to bode well for his recovery.
Smith said Isaac, 68, who has served as assessor since 1990, returned to Aspen about two weeks ago. It's unclear when Isaac might be able to return to work, Fite said.
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However, the office has been functioning normally in Isaac's absence, Peacock said.
"I think what's important for the public to know is the duties of the office are being carried out normally," he said.
Fite characterized the office situation as "steady as she goes."
"We're lucky in that we have a veteran crew," he said, adding that he will have been Isaac's right-hand man for 25 years this spring.
Isaac won the office in 1990 after a regular election with three other candidates and a runoff election. Since then, he has never been challenged for the office.
He was last elected two years ago, along with Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill, and has two years left on his term.
If he is unable to complete the term, the county's charter says the PitkinBoard of County Commissioners will appoint a temporary qualified assessor until the next election, Peacock said. However, that determination would likely only be made if the duties of the office are not being adequately performed, he said.
"Obviously, we hope (replacing Isaac) won't be the case," Peacock said.
Isaac grew up in Columbus, Ohio, but moved to Aspen 44 years ago and has been here for most of that time, according to an August 2014 feature story about him in The Aspen Times.