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Chron overview of Tax Assessor race

Sometimes, the difference between two candidates is especially clear.

Don Sumners has been complaining about government for so long that the Republican’s slogan for his campaign for tax assessor-collector is “I was tea party before tea party was cool.” Elect him, he said, and he will use the office as a megaphone to amplify the message he currently spreads through low-budget yellow fliers: The government taxes and spends too much.

Diane Trautman said the next Harris County tax assessor needs to tone it down, not stir up partisan fights. The Democrat said she would like to lead an office focused on customer service instead of fighting off lawsuits accusing it of suppressing voter registration.


Trautman wants to save taxpayers time, too. She said she would investigate establishing an express line at the tax office and its branches for customers who have simple transactions. She also said she intends to install a number system so that, instead of standing in line, customers can sit down while waiting their turns at the window. She also proposes setting up pilot voter registration projects in five area high schools.

Trautman said she has heard from people who protest their assessments that they get their tax bills late. She promised to push immediately after the election to get the those bills out in a more timely fashion.

Sumners said he intends to do whatever he can to make those bills lower, starting with pressuring the Harris County Appraisal District to give better treatment to those who protest their property appraisals. Part of the problem, he said, is that HCAD is not transparent. “They need to lay out their appraisal plans and methodology,” he said.

Basically, you’ve got one candidate who wants to make the office better and has numerous ideas for how to achieve that, and one candidate who wants to use the office as his own personal megaphone. I know which one I prefer.

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