Commissioners appoint Chelsie Mathews as Albany County Assessor
Having served as deputy assessor for five years, Mathews was a favorite for the position. Her competitors either acknowledged her qualifications or outright endorsed her.
Albany County has a new assessor — a former deputy in the same office who plans to make improvements, increasing communication with the public and cleaning up the data used to determine the value of property throughout the county.
Chelsie Mathews will take over for the remainder of Grant Showacre’s fourth term, following the former assessor’s resignation earlier this month. Mathews has been running the assessor’s office since Showacre left sometime last month.
Mathews has served as deputy assessor for half a decade and worked in the office even longer. During her interview with Albany County Commissioners Friday, Mathews outlined improvements she hoped to make to the County Assessor’s Office.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to notify property owners when our team will be reviewing properties — when and where,” she said. “We are required by state statute to physically review every property in the county every six years, and right now we have the when and where posted on our website, but the public doesn't necessarily know that.”
Mathews said this could take the form of notices in the Laramie Boomerang or posts on the county’s main site. Mathews also said she would like to clean up data collected and held by the office, which would make market-value assessments easier to perform.
The Albany County Assessor determines the value of real estate in the county, cycling through every parcel in Albany every few years. The valuation conducted by the assessor determines how much property owners must pay in property taxes.
Mathews was a favorite for the position, something even her competitors acknowledged. She was one of three candidates interviewed and considered for the assessor position by the Albany County Commissioners last week.
University of Wyoming Adjunct Professor David Meyer has been upfront about his motivation for applying. Meyer disagreed with an assessment of his own property performed under Showacre’s lengthy tenure. He said he believes there are problems with the way the assessor’s office analyzes properties and that he would have liked to serve only for the remainder of Showacre’s last term.
“I think it would make sense, in this cycle, to just delay Chelsie’s inevitable ascension to the head of the department by one election cycle,” Meyer said. “And get someone in there with the expertise … to help the department up its analytical game.”
In fact, there is about one year left in the term. Mathews will now have to run for the seat and win the 2022 general election to keep the office.
Meyer was the most serious opponent Mathews faced during the appointment process, but he wasn’t the only official opponent.
When a partisan county official abdicates their office before the end of their term, it kicks off a replacement process that involves both the official’s political party and the county government.
Albany County has seven partisan county officials — not including the commissioners — and three of them have been replaced by such a process in the past calendar year.
When Showacre resigned, the Albany County Democrats were tasked with putting forward three candidates for the position. The commissioners are then tasked with selecting the new assessor from among those three (as they did previously for sheriff and county attorney).
In this most recent replacement process for county assessor, the Democrats received just two applications — those from Mathews and Meyer. To meet their statutory requirement of three candidates, the Democrats put forward a “filler” candidate.
Tim Chesnut, a former county commissioner, was blunt about his status as a filler candidate during his interview Friday.
“I’m here to support Chelsie,” Chesnut said. “I just put my name in so the Democrats would have three. That’s where I’m at.”
Instead, Chesnut used his time to endorse his competitor.
“I think she’s been doing the job for the past ten years,” he said. “I think she's got the most experience. I worked with Chelsie over the years. Grant was difficult to work with and Chelsie’s not.”
Following a brief executive session, the commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Mathews.