CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican Forest Carper said his own bad experiences in dealing with the Kanawha County assessor's office influenced his decision to run for the job of assessor.
But Democrat Sallie Robinson, who has worked in the office since she was 18 years old, said she has the experience and background to keep track of the county's tax books.
Carper and Robinson sat down with Gazette editors on Tuesday to talk about how they would run the assessor's office if elected in November.
"It's common sense, going into an office like this, that I don't know as much as Sallie, because she's been doing it for 28 years," Carper said.
"I think I can better operate the assessor's office," he said. "Sallie has 28 years of experience, but experience is not necessarily an asset in management."
Carper, a builder and developer, said he has been self-employed since 1980 and has the management skills needed to oversee an office that keeps track of the county's tax system. If elected, he said he would surround himself with people who know how the assessor's office works.
Robinson countered that she has done almost every job in the assessor's office. For the past 10 years, she has been assistant to Assessor Phyllis Gatson, taking part in the daily running of the office.
"I do have management experience," she said.
Robinson decided to run for assessor after Gatson announced earlier this year that she would not seek re-election for health reasons.
Under Gatson's direction, Robinson has said the assessor's office has become an efficient, professional organization praised by state officials. Still, she said, "I believe that everyone has their own ideas, and should have.
"I don't have any intentions of firing anyone," she said, but added that she would make some changes in the office if elected.
Carper said he would try to make the assessor's office friendlier and more open to taxpayers if elected. He said many members of the public don't understand how the tax system works, and said some employees in the office aren't very helpful.