Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Star Press Reports Grudge Match Playing Out in Delaware County Assessor's Race

From the Muncie Star-Press:

This is shaping up to be a year when political contests for normally below-the-radar offices turn into real political wrestling matches.

With no disrespect meant to the many fine people who’ve held the position, the office of Delaware County assessor has rarely garnered headlines. The assessor — not surprisingly — assesses property but does not set property tax rates (that’s the auditor) or actually collect taxes (that’s the treasurer).

Nevertheless, there’s a genuine struggle, fraught with bad history and worse feelings, playing out in the Republican Party right now as incumbent County Assessor James Carmichael finds himself challenged by veteran office-seeker Stephen Fields in the May GOP primary election.

But while Fields — a former Mount Pleasant Township official who most recently sought county-level office in an unsuccessful 2012 campaign for commissioner — has plenty of opinions about Carmichael’s performance in office, it is an associate of Fields who not only has a history of clashes with Carmichael but has made national headlines for his practice of buying up properties delinquent in taxes.

Tom Terry is a Muncie resident who has shown up at recent Delaware County commissioners’ meetings to make the same arguments Fields has made: That Carmichael led the commissioners astray in their approval of a contract with a private Muncie company, PSC Associates, that has for several years assessed most local property.

Terry did not return a call seeking comment, but his attorney, Jon Orlosky, said Terry’s interest in the assessment of local property isn’t new.

“In all honesty, Tom has been upset for years about proper procedures not being followed in several government offices,” the attorney told W/R.