By editorial board • 

Assessor's office best left in the hands of Derrick Wharff

The campaign to fill the assessor’s office pits a former appraiser, Jeanie Sandall, against the current chief appraiser, Derrick Wharff.

We give our nod to Wharff, based on his superior track record in management, stronger command of Oregon’s property appraisal and taxation system and better grasp of the challenges lying immediately ahead for the office.

He also boasts an extensive background in commercial lending, which rests on a foundation of sound appraisal practices, combined with experience as a private appraiser. That asset gives him a broader appreciation for the practical applications.

Sandall is well-intentioned, with 20 years with the office, mostly in appraisal. But she lacks Wharff’s experience in management and finance, his more current knowledge of office workings and his detailed prescriptions for moving forward in trying times.

Wharff is a graduate of Willamina High School and Western Oregon University. He and his wife are raising two daughters in Newberg. They are outdoor enthusiasts who like to hike, bike and ski.

He spent 15 years with Commercial, West Coast and Columbia River banks, rising to the rank of vice president, then senior vice president, before earning certification as an appraiser and launching a private practice. Outgoing Assessor Scott Maytubby brought him on board at the county in 2012.

Wharff said the office is currently at a critical juncture in replacing 25-year-old software and adopting a regular cycle of physical appraisals in the field after a long hiatus. And he feels his inside perspective makes him uniquely qualified to see them through.

He said the office is now ready to flip the switch on a software conversion five years in the making, and to simultaneously embark on a resumption of cycling fair market value appraisals for the first time since the 1995-96 tax year.

He said he would prefer to return the county to its historic six-year cycle, but it will probably have to settle for a 10-year cycle, given current resources. He said an office that once employed 26 appraisers now counts only eight, and even with huge advances in technology, it’s stretched thin.

Sandall is a Sheridan High School and Linfield College grad. She and her husband live in McMinnville.

She has held a series of temp work and short-term jobs since leaving the office in 2010, and is eager to return. She intended to challenge Maytubby four years ago, but had let her certification lapse and was not able to get it reinstated in time to make the ballot.

We don’t feel her credentials match Wharff’s.

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