Jefferson Democrats seek applicants for assessor seat

Lauralee Kiesel

Lauralee Kiesel

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Democrats are taking applications for a replacement for Assessor Jack Westerman III, who plans to retire by the end of 2013, one year shy of the end of his term.

Party Chairman George Yount opened the application period Monday.

A letter and resume in PDF format are to be sent to Yount at gyount@olypen.com by Nov. 15.

The Precinct Committee Officers of the Democratic Party will interview candidates at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.

Make appointment

They will, in turn, submit their recommendation of three candidates to the Board of County Commissioners, which will make the appointment.

Because the assessor post is a partisan elected office, a county political party chooses applicants for appointments. Westerman is a Democrat, so the Democratic Party makes the initial cut.

The next voter election will be in November 2014.

Yount said Tuesday that he expected at least three candidates would come forward, but the details of selection process have not been determined.

Westerman, 62, is both the longest-serving Jefferson County elected official and the longest-serving county assessor in Washington state.

He began in the office in 1975 as an appraiser before seeking elected office three years later.

He said he contemplated retiring before the 2010 election but stayed because he did not qualify for Social Security, for which he is now eligible.

He also wanted to retire after the 2013 filing deadline to save the county the cost of a special election and was giving early notice of his retirement so he could spend some time training his successor.

As of Tuesday, two people had told Yount they are interested in the position.

Jeff Chapman, currently a systems analyst with Alaska Power and Telephone who worked for 14 years in the Assessor’s Office, said he wanted to return to that office in an executive position.

Born same day

Chapman, 62, was born on the same day as Westerman — July 27, 1951, he said. He left the Assessor’s Office in 1998 after developing its geographic information system.

Judy Maves-Klatt, 51, who owns and operates her own appraisal service, is a former attorney who says she is familiar with the Jefferson County market and its valuation process.

Neither has ever sought elected office but would run for a full term in November 2014 if either is selected for the job.

Both said the transition to yearly assessments and the installation and use of a new computer system were the biggest issues facing the office.

Westerman said he didn’t know to what extent he will be involved in the process to choose his successor but will make himself available.

“I don’t know what the Democrats want or the commissioners want me to do, but I am here to make the selection as smooth as possible,” he said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

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