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PRESS ENDORSEMENTS: Keep one good thing going, fix another

| May 11, 2022 1:00 AM

Today: County commissioner, assessor

Friday, May 13: County clerk, coroner

COUNTY COMMISSIONER

Opponents have painted County Commissioner Chris Fillios with the nastiest brush stroke they could muster:

A closet Democrat!

Sadly, a recent attack ad for Fillios’s primary election opponent, Bruce Mattare, accused Fillios of being a liberal, anti-Second Amendment Democrat. What’s sad is that the ad came “from the desk of” Sheriff Bob Norris.

While we think the sheriff is doing a good job behind the badge, we’re concerned that he would use that pulpit to support Mattare. Mattare was Norris’s campaign manager, and one gets the sense that Norris is now returning the favor.

Mattare is smart, creative and likely to work hard if elected, but there are enough question marks to give voters pause.

His involvement in a company that preyed on vulnerable customers, his reactions to criticism on the campaign trail, and yes, his relationship with the sheriff all give rise to doubts.

County commissioners hold the pursestrings for the other county departments. It’s hard to imagine Mattare being objective in deciding funding questions directly affecting his friend Norris, and if Mattare recused himself from those responsibilities, how effective would he be as a commissioner?

Fillios is a known quantity. He has drawn the ire of far-right groups in part because of his support to let voters decide what form of county government they want. He’s known to listen well, deliberate thoughtfully and act for what he perceives to be the best interests of the entire county, not special interest groups or particular friends.

In our view, a vote for Mattare could help push fresh ideas forward. But it could also increase the possibility of a radical shift in county government, one which would result in a return to the unwise elimination of many county building codes or similarly extreme measures that serve a small but powerful group of people.

Fillios is an open book, level-headed and a bulwark against extremism.

Editor's note: This editorial unfairly expresses concern that Mattare could, as a county commissioner, help remove important building codes. Mattare is on the record as saying he supports those building codes and should be taken at his word.

COUNTY ASSESSOR

The man occupying the office for the past two years, Bela Kovacs, was appointed after Assessor Rich Houser died. Those two years have left behind a trail of destruction that Kovacs can’t ignore or deny.

The trail includes resignations from roughly twice as many employees in his department as would typically be seen. It includes a resounding statement of no confidence from the majority of his employees, who have urged him, privately and then publicly, not to run for the upcoming four-year term.

Sometimes, when a leader has a terrible mess to clean up, she or he won't win a popularity contest when the transformation begins. But that doesn’t apply here. Houser ran one of the most efficient departments — and one of the happiest, according to many employees. Kovacs inherited a gift, and he has essentially destroyed it in two short years. A victory on May 17 could very well lead to the Assessor’s Office imploding.

Fortunately, there’s an excellent alternative. Bob Scott has worked in the office for nine years and, prior to Kovacs, learned from the best. He’s respected by his fellow employees and is poised to right this sinking ship. The hope here is that the department can stay afloat until Scott would take over next January.

On May 17, your votes for Chris Fillios and Bob Scott would be safe and sound steps forward.