Incumbent Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang is facing a challenge from Deputy Assessor John Loew Tuesday in a non-partisan race unlikely to draw much attention amid the election drama across the country.
The county assessor’s office is responsible for evaluating more than 2.6 million real estate and business properties valued at more than $1.4 trillion and managing an annual budget of roughly $180 million and about 1,400 employees.
Prang took over the department from John Noguez, who is awaiting trial for allegedly accepting campaign donations in exchange for lowering property assessments.
In addition to taking responsibility for restoring trust in the department, Prang has moved to modernize technology and make more information accessible online. The assessor says he will continue to replace and upgrade legacy systems, make sure assessments are fair and provide excellent public service.
Loew changed his middle name in 2000 when campaigning for the same seat and appeared on that ballot and in each of his subsequent runs as John “Lower Taxes” Loew. The candidate told the Daily Breeze in 2006 that the name change only cost $30 and was more affordable than paying for a ballot statement.
Prang beat out Loew for the job in 2014, though Prang’s experience was in local government, not appraisal or real estate. Prior to serving as assessor, Prang was elected to the West Hollywood City Council for five four-year terms beginning in 1997 and held posts on various advisory boards and commissions.
He is endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, all five members of the county Board of Supervisors, the California Association of Realtors, Service Employees International Union Local 721 and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, as well as the Los Angeles Times.
On his campaign website, Loew emphasizes that he’s not a career politician and has worked as a property appraiser for Los Angeles County for 29 years, which he believes better qualifies him for the top role.
Loew claims it is difficult for the average property owner to resolve any grievances with the assessor’s office and promises to do a better job.
“My administration will address itself primarily to the fair, conservative assessment of property value and to public service,” Loew says on his site. “Remember: It’s your government. We just work here.”
Loew was able to force a runoff after picking up 23.6 percent of the vote in the primary, as he and two other deputy assessors in contention held Prang to 47.6 percent.