A familiar name will be on the ballot for Spokane County assessor.
Bob Blum, a Republican who ran against Assessor Sadie Charlene Cooney in 1994, announced this week that he intends to run again. He is the first candidate to announce for the position, although there is widespread speculation that Cooney will run again.
Blum, a salesman with years of management experience in the Air Force and private companies, is trying to break into a position that traditionally is held by Democrats who work their way up in the assessor’s office. That includes Cooney.
“The people that are in the office always say you have to work in the office before you can do the job. That’s not true,” said Blum, 58. “The position is more about leadership than anything else.”
A South Carolina native, Blum has lived in Spokane all but two years since 1971. He retired as an Air Force technical sergeant in 1977.
Blum earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University in 1978. He said he did course work for a master’s degree in communications, but did not complete his thesis.
Blum is the regional marketing representative for GTech, a Rhode Island company that sells lottery equipment and computer services.
In addition to his 1994 campaign for assessor, Blum ran for Spokane County commissioner in 1992, finishing last among eight candidates. He unsuccessfully sought appointment to the Legislature in 1995, when Mike Padden left the House of Representatives to take a judgeship.
In an interview Wednesday, Blum was careful not to criticize Cooney, whom he called “a nice lady.” But he noted a series of high-profile problems in the office since she took over.
The problems include a judge’s ruling that the county illegally overassessed the value of Kaiser Aluminum Co. properties by $186 million in 1994. The office also is working to reduce a huge backlog of subdivisions it hasn’t yet recorded, meaning the county isn’t collecting all the taxes it should.
Blum also cited the county’s slowness in collecting taxes on business equipment, a problem that can only be solved by a joint effort of the assessor, county treasurer and commissioners.
The county assessor earns $59,000 a year.
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