In Mississippi, that's what we elect a Tax Assessor for. There was actually a study done on effectiveness of Tax Assessors, and it ranked the states. Amazingly, Mississippi was not at the bottom, but slightly below average. What we have done right is to have it done on a county level and by an elected, rather than appointed, tax assessor. What we need to improve is enforceable state standards.
Basically, what this means is that it's up to us to vote in a competent Tax Assessor. We will have that opportunity on August 7. If you don't learn about the candidates and, even worse, if you don't vote, then I don't want to hear any griping about taxes. How you vote is secret, but whether you vote is public record.
This time the outcome will be determined on August 7. There will be no runoffs and no generals, because there are only two candidates and they're both Democrats. So if you don't vote in the Democratic primary, you'll have no say in how your taxes are determined.
Let's look at the candidates. Challenger Jerry Lyles is running against incumbent Reynolds Atkins.
I'll start with the challenger, because he worries me a lot. In the last election in 2003, Lyles ran against Sammy Cauthen for Supervisor District 1. I thought he was impressive, but I didn't feel like I knew much about him. I knew Sammy Cauthen and had no significant cause for complaint, so he got my vote.
In March 2004, Lyles was arrested and charged with three counts of false voter registration, for which he could have been jailed for 3 years and fined $15,000. When he went to court, he ran ads on television asking supporters to show up to support him, for which he was admonished by the judge.
"This is a court of law and will be conducted as such. This is not a circus, not a political meeting, and not a Jerry Lyles Jr. meeting. Nothing is decided by the number of supporters you turn out for court. The court decides the cases fairly. It was an outrageous and poor decision on your part. Your actions show a lack of respect for the court and were not very smart."
In June, Lyles pled guilty to one count of registering a voter who did not live in the county. The judge sentenced him to one year's probation, and at the end of that year, his record was expunged. I saw no jail time or fines mentioned. (Doesn't this sound familiar?)
Because his record was expunged, he can legally run for office. Another confessed criminal is running for office. Have these people no shame? Although his crime is not as heinous as that of Vile Vines, I really do not want a criminal determining my taxes. He was interviewed by the paper for an article on this race, and of course his past was brought up. Do you know what he had the nerve to say? "Mistakes were made." I hate that phrase and anyone who uses it. Not "I made a mistake". No, those mistakes just made themselves. It means he does not acknowledge his crimes, nor does he have any remorse. Therefore, he could easily do it again.
Do you realize how open this office is to abuse? What do you think will happen if his supporters go in and tell a tale of woe? Will their assessment be reduced? How often will that happen? We'll never know, because we can't challenge or investigate every property assessment. If this man is elected, hold on to you wallets, because to make up for any favors he might do for his friends, the rest of us will have to pay more. People like me who openly oppose him might find our assessments magically increased. Of course, we have the right to appeal, but who knows what will happen in the Natchez courts.
Plus, he's going to cost us more money from the getgo. He's going to have to contract out the assessments, since he doesn't even know how to assess property. Or even worse, try to do it himself after he's taken a little course.
In my next post, I'm going to tell you about Reynolds Atkins and why I love him to death!