WASHINGTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – When voters go to the polls in Washington County, Tennessee during early voting or on election day, March 3, they will be asked to choose who will be the county’s next Assessor for Property.
Former Major League Baseball Umpire Dale Ford and Incumbent Scott Buckingham are the two candidates who began trading jabs before the election.
Buckingham has been the Assessor of Property in Washington County, Tenn. for 10 years. The vote in the Republican primary on March 3, against a very well known opponent, could determine the next overall winner since no Democratic or Independent candidate has announced that they are running. The general election for the position is Aug. 6.
“I can tell you after two groups, one group from Johnson City and one group from Jonesborough kept begging me to run and I finally decided to run and I wanted to make things fair for everybody,” Ford told News Channel 11 why he decided to announce his candidacy. “The next day after I decided to run I was going door-to-door, and I’ve been going door-to-door every day since and I’ve only found two couples that were not dissatisfied with their taxes.”
Buckingham claims he has built a reputation for fair treatment and public service in his decade as assessor of property in Washington County, Tenn.
“I run a positive campaign, and I don’t want to get into mudslinging or anything and I think everyone should be above that,” he told News Channel 11. “I don’t think the county likes that or the citizens of the county like that.”
The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury states that a county’s “Assessor of Property appraises and classifies the property and then applies the statutory percentages to appraisals to determine assessments.”
“We do not control the tax rate, the tax rate is controlled by the commission, I think Mr. Ford, my opponent, my good friend, really doesn’t understand how it works,” Buckingham said. “We do not set the tax rate, the commission sets the tax rate and of course the trustee collects the money, the taxes.”
Ford says he plans to make sure the scales are balanced.
“People have been telling me that they’re not being treated fairly, and that’s my goal in life, to make sure everybody is treated fairly, pays their fair share taxes, everybody – rich or poor – and if we can do that, we’ll have enough money in this county to do what we need to do,” Ford said.
In his campaign material, Ford has accused Buckingham of a conflict of interest because he used to work as a builder with his own construction company.
“The conflict of interest is that prior to being assessor of property, I was a builder. I built over a hundred homes locally and now, I have turned that over to my son, he runs the business now, but having that real estate ability, and knowing the real estate market, has really allowed me to do this job and do a good job at it and be a property value pro, I feel like I am now,” Buckingham explained.
Ford also questions Buckingham’s time on the job, a claim Buckingham denies.
“I may not be always in the office. I have cut the staff down since I’ve been here. I’m not a sit behind the desk boss guy, I’m out with the guys doing appraisals, checking on parcels of land and so forth, and that’s where I’m at, but anyone can reach me any time by my cellphone number, I’ve got an open-door policy,” Buckingham explained. “And it’s kind of coincidence that my friend Dale Ford has brought that up because he lost his last elected job for failing to show up for work.”
Ford was defeated in his bid for re-election as Jonesborough’s state representative against Micah Van Huss in 2012, which he claims is not “getting fired.”
“My message to the voters is simply – vote for me, and if you’re not satisfied with your taxes – vote for me,” Ford said.
Early voting runs through February 25, and can be done at these locations in Washington County, Tennessee:
- Old Ace Hardware Building- 220 N 2nd Ave, Jonesborough, TN 37659- Hours: M – F 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat. 9 a.m. – 12, NOON
- Princeton Art Center- 2516 E. Oakland Ave.Johnson City, 37601- Hours: M – F 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sat. 9 a.m. – 12, NOON
- Gray Fire Station- 106 Gray Commons Cir, Gray, TN 37615- Hours: M – F 9 a.m. – 5 p.m Sat. 9 a.m. – 12, NOON
Tennessee and Virginia are among the states that will vote in the Presidential Primary on March 3, also known as “Super Tuesday.”