GOP primary in assessor race offers clear choice

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Veteran of office vying with veteran of disputes with office

By Ramsey Scott

The GOP primary in the Jeffco assessor race offers a clear choice: the county's deputy assessor, who has 18 years of experience in the office; and a tax consultant who has represented property owners in valuation disputes.

Deputy Assessor Lou D’Aurio is vying for the Republican nomination with Ron Sandstrom. At the county GOP assembly on March 22, D’Aurio won 51 percent of the vote, while Sandstrom received 48 percent. The winner of the June 24 primary will face Democrat Andrew Hassinger and Libertarian Patrick Sullivan in the general election.

D’Aurio said he decided to run for the office so he could keep working with the public. 

“I get along great with the people. I love helping people and working with the taxpayers. This job was a great fit for me,” D’Aurio said. “I’m the kind of person, I'd rather sit down with a taxpayer and talk to them, and I think that helps the taxpayer understand what we’re doing, and we understand what their concerns are.”

But Sandstrom said the assessor’s office needs a change in leadership to make it more responsive to Jeffco taxpayers. 

“I’ve been representing various taxpayers in opposition to, or who have disputes with, the county assessor's office for the past 34 years,” Sandstrom said. “The taxpayer isn’t being properly represented by the assessor's office. He doesn’t get a fair shake and isn’t treated fairly.”

D’Aurio became deputy assessor after owning a liquor store in Jeffco for 21 years. He said the experience as a business owner, along with the almost 400 hours of training from the state and University of Colorado, make him the best choice. 

“I believe my experience makes me the best candidate. I believe I’m the only candidate in the race who is licensed to be an assessor,” D’Aurio said. “If I’m elected, my goal is to improve citizens' access to information on our website. That would be No. 1. As technology gets better, we’ve been able to provide more information on the website, and that’s helped out a lot. I want to continue to improve that.”

Sandstrom, who worked for Coors Brewing Co. for nine years as a tax manager and supervisor before starting his own business in 1989, said the experiences of his clients in valuation disputes led him to run. 

“I don’t believe the taxpayer, whether he’s residential or commercial, is being treated with honesty by the assessor’s office,” Sandstrom said. “I want to bring fresh air into the assessor’s office.”

Sandstrom said his top priorities if elected would be shortening the amount of time it takes for disputes to be settled and for the office to more accurately assess the real value of property.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.