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Incumbent Ernie Dronenburg Keeps Seat In County Assessor/Recorder Race

Ernie Dronenburg and Matt Strabone appear in official campaign portraits.

Above: Ernie Dronenburg and Matt Strabone appear in official campaign portraits.

UPDATE: 7:18 a.m., June 6, 2018:

With all precincts reporting, San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk incumbent Ernie Dronenburg has secured 63.5 percent of the vote.

His challenger, ethics lawyer Matt Strabone has 36.3 percent.

Since there are only two candidates in the race, the top vote-getter will win outright and not have to run in the general election in November.

UPDATE: 10:01 p.m., June 5, 2018:

With 15 percent of precincts reporting, San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk incumbent Ernie Dronenburg is in the lead with 64.83 percent of the votes.

His challenger, ethics lawyer Matt Strabone trails at 35.02 percent.

Since there are only two candidates in the race, whoever gets the most votes on Tuesday will win outright and not have to run in the general election in November.

Original story:

San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk Ernie Dronenburg hopes to fend off a challenge from ethics lawyer Matt Strabone in a race to see who runs the office that decides how much property tax everyone pays, stores the county's public land records and issues marriage licenses and birth certificates.

Who Is Running?

Strabone, a Democrat, is running to unseat Dronenburg, a Republican. Because there are only two candidates in the race, whoever gets the most votes on Tuesday will win outright and not have to run in the general election in November.

RELATED: An Obscure Race: Meet The Candidates Running For San Diego County Assessor

Who Is Supporting Whom?

Strabone has received more than $125,000 in contributions before the June election, with more than $50,000 coming from the San Diego County Democratic Party.

He has received endorsements from several local unions, the San Diego County Democratic Party and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.

Dronenburg has raised more than $145,000 in contributions. That includes $45,000 in loans from Dronenburg and $15,000 from the Republican Party of San Diego. He has endorsements from The San Diego Union-Tribune and some local law enforcement unions.

What Are The Issues?

The race focused on who could run the office better by helping more homeowners receive tax breaks called the Homeowner's Exemption.

Strabone sent out campaign ads with the Union-Tribune claiming he could help 150,000 people save money on their taxes by taking this exemption.

Incumbent Ernie Dronenburg said not all of those 150,000 people are eligible for the exemption. For example, people who received a Disabled Veteran’s Exemption. When KPBS questioned Strabone about this, he said between 5,000 and 6,000 homeowners claim this exemption.

When KPBS questioned Strabone about this, he said between 5,000 and 6,000 homeowners claim this exemption.

RELATED: #ShowUsYourMailers: Dueling Ads Over Tax Breaks In San Diego Assessor Race

"So I guess the number of unclaimed homeowner's exemptions is closer to 142,000, though I'd argue this is still nearly 150,000," he said.

Strabone also questions Dronenburg's ethics, citing a San Diego Union-Tribune story that said the current assessor invested in companies that own and manage properties under his jurisdiction.

"He's taken no steps to recuse himself from assessing those properties," Strabone said. "I think that's wrong."

Dronenburg called the accusation "ridiculous."

"For example, if I own Coca-Cola stock you think I should recuse myself from not assessing Coca-Cola because I own Coca-Cola stock?" he said.

The Union-Tribune further reported that professional groups say there are no specific rules regarding elected assessors making investments.

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