Chapman appointed as Jefferson County’s first new assessor in 35 years
Assessor-designate Jeff Chapman addresses Jefferson County commissioners Monday. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Chapman will serve out the unexpired term of Jack Westerman, the state’s longest serving tax assessor, who is retiring Dec. 31.
“He was clearly the most experienced in the relevant areas,” Commissioner John Austin said of Chapman, formerly the county’s deputy assessor.
“We were impressed by his ability to address the problems associated with a new technology system that will be put into effect next year.”
Westerman, 62, first elected in 1978 and also Jefferson County’s longest-serving elected official, announced in September that his will step down with a year remaining on his current four-year term.
One of the reasons for his departure was the implementation of new software to accommodate yearly assessments, which he did not feel qualified or inclined to supervise.
Technical proficiency was cited as one of Chapman’s strengths.
As the deputy assessor, he designed and implemented many of the systems that are in use in the Assessor’s Office.
Chapman, along with Judy Maves-Klatt and Gary Felder, were interviewed by the board Monday prior to a 10-minute executive session. At the end of that time, the commissioners reconvened and unanimously selected Chapman for the post.
Since Westerman is a Democrat, the law requires that the county Democratic Party selects three candidates and submits the names to the county commissioners, who make the final decision.
The election for a four-year term will be in November 2014.
Chapman and Maves-Klatt, 51, who owns and operates her own appraisal business, were the only two qualified candidates, commissioners said.
Felder was considered a “placeholder” and not seriously considered for the position.
Felder was nonetheless interviewed for the job, saying he felt competent to supervise the office but would rely on staff recommendations to make any operational decisions.
“[Superior Court Clerk] Ruth Gordon just told me that I’d have to learn about all the RCWs [state laws] that affect the Assessor’s Office in order to do this job, and that scared the bejesus out of me,” Felder said.
During her interview Maves-Klatt said her time as an attorney would help her to understand and implement any complicated new statutes that affect the Assessor’s Office.
Chapman said he would be able to implement new programs that provide property data to the government but underscored the importance of protecting individual privacy during that process.
Chapman, who now works as a programmer for Alaska Power and Telephone Co., said he will spend the next few weeks phasing out of his current job and spending time in the Assessor’s Office to learn its processes.
Chapman will be sworn in Jan. 2, but the plans for a ceremony have not yet been determined, according to Elections Supervisor Karen Cartmel.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: December 02. 2013 6:32PM