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Another challenger emerges for Assessor

Grays Harbor Assessor Rick Hole will now face a two-front election to hold on to his job.

Loni Hooper, who serves as chief appraiser for Pacific County but lives in Aberdeen, says she intends to file for the post.

Hole, a third party candidate under the banner of Neither Party, has already said he’ll file for re-election. Democrat Dan Lindgren, a senior appraiser in the Grays Harbor Assessor’s Office, said he’ll run against Hole again. They last ran against each other four years ago.

Hooper says she plans to file as an Independent. Filing period for the post is May 12 to May 16 at the county Auditor’s Office in Montesano.

“It is now time for change, and a new vision is needed for solving and fixing the current assessor’s four years … of serious internal dysfunction, and to restore the employee morale of an outstanding staff,” Hooper writes in an email. “My experience of working with county employees is critical for internal success. State legislative mandated law requires annual mass appraisal. It must be accomplished with a new computer system and meeting the yearly required legal timelines of the Assessor’s Office.”

The Assessor’s Office has been under scrutiny by the state Department of Revenue after a series of deadlines have been missed for the past few years with continued criticism by the county commissioners over the way Hole has run the office.

Hooper says she’s “very aware of the situation … and the awful lot of turmoil” associated with the Assessor’s Office.

Hole led an effort to create a new computer assisted mass appraisal system. Despite hiring three consultants and work that stretched out for about two years, there’s nothing really to show for it — despite some $180,000 in state funds spent. Now, the county is looking to buy software from a professional company.

“I’m not quite sure why the county didn’t just buy a software package that was already built,” Hooper says. “There are so many systems out there. The county really should have just bought something that was proven.”

Hooper says she’s been the chief appraiser for Pacific County for the past 20 years. Before that, she worked for Thurston County’s Central Services division for nine years, two years in Thurston County’s Assessor’s Office and two years at the Grays Harbor Assessor’s Office.

“I have lived in Grays Harbor for many years,” Hooper says. “I am a taxpayer and I have taken Pacific County from a four-year cycle to an annual one. We went through a computer-software conversion and a couple of other changes and conversions.”

Hooper and her husband Monte own Lily Lane Farm, between Aberdeen and Westport. They are starting their 17th year in business. Together, they have an adult son, Drew Hooper, who is the elected chairman of Public Hospital District No. 1, in charge of Summit Pacific Medical Center.

“We’re open seasonally,” she says. “We have the largest collection of day lillies available to Washington and Oregon.”