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Monday, September 26, 2022

Longtime Santa Clara County assessor looks to be the winner again

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Last updated 5 p.m. on Friday. The next update will be 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Incumbent Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone is resoundingly ahead and looks set to serve his seventh term.

Stone has 68.17% of the vote with 141,576 votes, while opponent Andrew Crockett is trailing with 31.83% of the vote with 66,119 votes. With 79% of all ballots counted, if the numbers hold Stone will not face a November runoff.

“I’m very pleased that the voters significantly reaffirmed my performance for assessor,” Stone said a day after the election. “You want experience more than anything else. If I screw up, if I improperly reassess Apple or Google, I’m totally responsible.”

Stone said the county will see about a 6.5 % increase in the budget his office manages by July, which he considers “very strong” in a period of economic turmoil.

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“We’re much more resilient here in Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, to economic downturns,” Stone said.

Stone has been assessor—an official who determines property values and shares property tax information with the public—for nearly three decades, and earns $260,000 annually. A Democrat, he has been endorsed by Mayor Sam Liccardo, the Mercury News and former state Sen. Becky Morgan. As of April, his campaign raised over $341,000.

Stone campaigned on his record of efficiently managing the assessor’s office, while the county’s assessment roll—the sum value of all real estate and business property—increased about 402% since 1995, from $150 billion a year to $578 billion. He claimed a recent state audit of county appraisals found they were 99.48% accurate, and that he returned $23 million unspent funds back to the general fund for 26 of his 27 years of service.

Stone faced accountant and appraiser Crockett, 36, who promised to make the office more transparent and criticized the incumbent for being technologically behind the times. He was endorsed by the Santa Clara County Management Employees Association and Peter Fiekowsky, founder of the Foundation for Climate Restoration. As of April he had raised over $51,000.

Crockett told San José Spotlight that with 48% of all ballots yet to be counted, he is still hopeful for a win.

“While it’s not very statistically likely to end in my victory, it’s still a statistical possibility,” he said. “We are over-performing a lot of people’s expectations, when you’re a first-time candidate running against an entrenched candidate known for his deep establishment ties that allow him to phone in his competition.”

Crockett said he feels confident after nearly 50,000 people cast votes supporting his campaign to increase the office’s accountability and sustainability, that the community wants transparency and a changing of the guard.

If the election outcome remains in Stone’s favor, Crockett said “We’re going to take action to see if we can get audited financial statements demanded by the Board of Supervisors.”

Accountant Andrew Crockett at his work desk. Photo courtesy of candidate.

Stone said he agrees with critics that the office’s financial management technology, the same that banks use, should be updated.

“It is outdated, and we’re fixing that,” Stone said, adding an a bidding process is being drafted this week to procure a vendor for upgrades.

Contact Natalie Hanson at natalie.hanson96@gmail.com or @nhanson_reports on Twitter.

Reporter Eli Wolfe contributed to this story.

The post Longtime Santa Clara County assessor looks to be the winner again appeared first on San José Spotlight.

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