What does the San Diego County assessor, recorder and clerk do?
The race for San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk is one of the lower-profile races on the November ballot — the kind of race where the candidates are constantly having to explain what exactly the job is.
Assessors are responsible for determining the value of properties, and how much of that value can be taxed under state law. The recorder and clerk aspects of the job involve issuing birth, death and marriage certificates and registering business names.
It's a much more apolitical job than other county offices, such as supervisor, district attorney or sheriff, which is why the two candidates, Jordan Marks and Barbara Bry, are putting an emphasis on competency and customer service.
Who are the candidates?
- Registered Republican
Marks is the chief deputy assessor running to replace his boss, Ernie Dronenburg, who is retiring after 12 years on the job. Marks said his experience in the field of property assessment, and his knowledge of how the office operates, makes him the most qualified candidate.
"I read every customer feedback card that comes into our office," Marks said. "When I got to the office and they said we need a new website — well, we budgeted for it, we planned for it, minus the slowdown from the pandemic, we got there for the taxpayers because that is great customer service."
- Registered Democrat
His opponent is longtime entrepreneur Barbara Bry, who served on the San Diego City Council from 2016 to 2020 before running unsuccessfully for mayor. Bry pitches herself as a forward-thinking innovator who can make the office run more smoothly and transparently by updating technology.
As an example, Bry said the office should develop a uniform way of communicating with city governments when they issue building permits that trigger a property tax reassessment.
"Each city communicates with the assessor's office in a different way, and in some cases it was the U.S. mail," Bry said. "That's not acceptable in the 21st century. What if a piece of paper gets lost?"
Bry also brought up a criminal conflict of interest case in which the County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk office's former chief information officer, Rolf Bishop, pleaded guilty to directing contract work to his wife's business. Bry said it showed evidence that the office needs new leadership, while Marks has said it was an isolated incident and the county's anti-corruption controls worked as they should have.
The big picture
Marks is a Republican while Bry is a Democrat. The office, like all other locally elected offices in California, is officially nonpartisan. But like many other races across San Diego County, it could be seen as a test case for voters' tolerance of the GOP brand in the wake of the Trump presidency.
🗳️ Vote-by-mail ballots begin to be sent to all active California registered voters starting Oct. 8. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 24. (If voters miss this deadline they can still register and vote in person at any vote center location.) Nov. 8 is the statewide election day but many vote centers are open prior to election day. Vote center and drop-off locations close at 8 p.m. on election day.