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Two candidates vying to be next Bannock County assessor

Anita Hymas, left, and Tamara Code
POCATELLO — With current Bannock County Assessor Sheri Davies not running for re-election, voters will choose a new assessor between two candidates.
Anita Hymas, the Republican candidate, is the current chief deputy assessor in Bannock County and has been working in the assessor’s office for more than 40 years. Tamara Code, the Democratic candidate, holds a master’s degree in business administration and is a former educator.
The 2022 general election will be on Nov. 8. sent both candidates the same eight questions. Candidates were required to keep each answer to 250 words or fewer.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Hymas: I moved to Idaho in 1968 with my family when my dad retired from the Air Force. We moved to Pocatello in 1977. I have been married for 38 years to my wonderful husband Brian Hymas. We have one daughter, who is amazing. We love the outdoors and are grateful to live so close to the mountains here in Bannock County.
I have served as a Cub Scout leader, a swim coach for the Special Olympics program and have held various leadership positions in our church.
In my senior year of high school in 1978 I began my career in Pocatello at the Assessor’s Office part time. When I graduated, I was offered a full-time job. I started out doing research in the plat room and have held several positions and ultimately became chief deputy assessor. I have served under seven assessors, the last three as chief deputy.
Code: I have been a resident of Bannock County for over 30 years. I explored other opportunities for a few years and lived in some of the most beautiful parts of Idaho, but I chose to return home to Pocatello.
I raised all four of my kids here. Three of them have bachelor’s degrees, 2 have master’s degrees, and the 4th is halfway through her bachelor’s.
I am very involved in the community and give time to local organizations, including Rotary, Women United, the Greater Pocatello/Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce, and the Pocatello Chiefs. I was the director of the Portneuf Greenway Foundation for six years, building 8 miles of recreational trail.
I love this area, and when I returned home, I was shocked at the negative attitude toward the Davies/Hymas Assessor’s Office. I decided to run to regain the trust of the residents of Bannock County in this office. Elected officials are public servants. Serving the public is our No. 1 priority, which has not been the focus for the last four years. I want to restore the public trust in the assessor’s office and empower the employees to help them grow and prosper; I will also work with the DMV to reduce or eliminate lines.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Hymas: My proudest accomplishment is my 38-year marriage to my soulmate, and raising our beautiful daughter.
My proudest career accomplishment is that I started a job when I was young and had a desire to keep learning, and it became a lifelong career. I always had a desire to know more about the office and about the processes. I believe that desire drives us when we allow it to. I have attended many classes to further my education and knowledge about assessing practices and functions of the Assessor’s Office. I have established relationships with countless Bannock County residents over the years, with some turning into lifelong friendships. I have worked alongside other departments in the county (as well as elected officials) to be fiscally responsible and to establish procedures that affect multiple departments.
Under Idaho code, it is necessary for us to work closely with the Idaho State Tax Commission to maintain our five-year plan and stay in compliance with our assessed values. I have established strong relationships with them, and we work well together. I also have worked with the local title companies and real estate agents to keep communication strong between our office and theirs.
I am very proud of the commitment I made 40-plus years ago and still stand by the commitment today as I desire to become the next Bannock County assessor.
Code: I was privileged and honored to attend three master’s level graduations this year. Two of my daughters and I earned our master’s degrees in various fields. My master’s started when I was having chemotherapy and finished in only 15 months. I am very proud of my daughters’ educational accomplishments. I have always maintained that my legacy is my children and what they can accomplish in society.
For the last two years, I have held a job where the company was stuck in the ’50s with no computer programs being used. I brought this company into the 21st century by installing, populating and using computer programs to run the business. I have experience with complicated programs and realize that issues with the output are based on the data input.
Fixing problems is what I do, and I am looking forward to resolving the issues in the assessor’s office.
Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/independent/other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Hymas: My roots are planted in the Republican Party. My dad served for 20 years in two different military branches, served in three wars, was missing in action, and was wounded in the Korean Conflict. Through all of this, he stood strong in his faith and love for his county. He taught my brothers and me that same faith in God and love for this county, instilling in us patriotism and respect.
My religious beliefs also come to play in my choice of parties and align with the Republicans. I believe in the Second Amendment. I have been around guns all my life, my dad taught us to respect them and to understand the need and use for them.
I stand for preserving values and freedoms that we have grown up with and that will lead us into the future, values such as respect and love for this nation, economic growth and the freedoms that the constitution allows us.
Code: No decisions made in this office would further the cause of any political party. It should be a non-partisan office. I am a proud member of the Democratic Party.
What are the greatest challenges facing Idahoans?
Hymas: Right now, I believe that the greatest challenge is the growth that all of Idaho is experiencing, especially here in Bannock County. We continue to see the housing market change. We need to continue to keep levies low by being fiscally responsible, by being fair and equitable in our values.
At the same time, our growth impacts our need for more services in many areas. In order for us to have the necessary services, taxing districts need to have money to ensure that we have those services to continue to have the community we have all loved for years. We need to have affordable housing and yet stay within compliance with Idaho Code in our values and maintain stability.
Code: There are many challenges in Bannock County. The only one that pertains to this office is property taxes. Our legacy owners are being taxed out of their homes, and new homebuyers cannot qualify for loans once property taxes are added to their payments. The assessor cannot change the structure of how property taxes are levied; we can only make sure that the property values in Bannock County are fairly and equitably assessed. Property tax reform is an issue for the State Legislature to address.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Hymas: I do not believe that the assessor should be thought of as a partisan position. I think we need someone who has the knowledge and experience to lead the office and understand the policies and procedures set forth by Idaho Code. There is really nothing that we do in our office that is partisan in nature. We are to be fair and equitable in our assessments to all taxpayers no matter their status or their political views. We have the opportunity as assessors to sit on committees and help lobby the Legislature for laws that would help taxpayers and keep taxes down, which is wanted by all parties.
Politics aside, there are many differing views on assessments, budgets and tax levies. I find value in all views, especially those that I might not necessarily align with. By engaging with people that would challenge our own views, I feel we have the opportunity to better understand others, even if we still stand by our beliefs. An assessor may have a narrow scope in how they must perform their duties, but I believe there is still value in allowing everyone to have a voice at the table.
Code: All constituents want lower property taxes. The party they belong to has no basis in this regard.
The state statutes mandate that the Assessor’s Office value property at market value. That is what we will continue to do in the future. If any property tax reform is to be had, it will be up to the State Legislature. I would be willing to work with other assessors and legislators to get this done. I will be a champion of citizens’ rights to be able to afford to remain in their homes.
What are your goals while in office? Are there any specific projects or issues that are important to you?
Hymas: I have the ultimate goal of bringing more trust to our office. I feel there has been an issue due to the lack of communication with the public, and with other departments and elected officials. Compounding the issue is the continuous rise in market values that we have seen these last four years. While we are mandated by state code to follow the market in terms of assessments, we can make great efforts to keep the public informed and updated in everything we do.
Our DMV has experienced a revenue loss over the last two years. Some of that is due to changes occurring on a state-level with the Idaho Transportation Department to move some services online, to be processed in Boise rather than in local counties. All counties are experiencing changes in their DMV. We implemented a queuing system almost two years ago. I want to make that one of my projects, to really look into ways to improve that system. I would be open to comments from the public in what they feel works and doesn’t work. Let’s bring revenue back to the county and bring residents back to doing business with us.
I want our office to provide good customer service and work on improving all the time. I will have an open-door policy at all times and encourage residents to come in and visit with me or one of our staff anytime throughout the year, about their values or concerns of any kind (including the DMV).
Code: My goals are to be a public servant. All elected officials are public servants, as are the employees they supervise. The citizens of Bannock County need to feel welcome and listened to; that is my No. 1 goal.
I will also rebuild the trust that the citizens have lost in this office. I want to educate the citizens on property taxes and help them file appeals to the Board of Equalizations. I believe that if enough citizens do this, the State Legislature may get the message and enact property tax reform.
Do you have any plans to significantly reduce or expand staffing or make changes to the county budget if elected? Are there areas that need more funding or areas where cutbacks could be made?
Hymas: I have no plans to reduce or expand staffing. However, as changes occur with ITD for the DMV, we could see some staff-shifting. We have already cut back some positions for the fiscal year 2023, due to some services such as online registrations and mail now going to the state processing center.
We are prepared to expand and add a position if the needs of the residents of Bannock County change.
I have worked with previous assessors and the current assessor on the budget each year. I had the opportunity to work closely with our county auditor and clerk as well, in assessing our needs over the past nine years as chief deputy. I have the knowledge to be fiscally responsible to the citizens of Bannock County with our budget.
Our office actually has two budgets we are responsible for: the assessor budget (DMV) and the appraisal budget. This year we were able to reduce the assessor budget (DMV). The appraisal budget is the portion of the office that is responsible for appraising properties. This includes the plat room staff who maps all properties and keeps track of changing ownerships and segregations of land, the front staff that works on all exemptions and assists the appraisers, the appraisers and the administration.
Code: While there are always ways to save taxpayer money, until I get in the office and evaluate the efficiency of the systems in place, it would not be very sensible to make any of these distinctions now. I would oppose any further raises in the salaries of elected officials. If wages are to be increased, the employees, not the elected officials, should be the beneficiaries.
As an elected official how will you work with the media to disseminate important information to the public?
Hymas: I have already started this by giving information through my election page on Facebook about our office and plan to continue that through social media. We have a public information officer in Bannock County that I plan to work alongside to get information out to the public on a regular basis. I will establish relationships with the local media, such as local newspapers, radio and television to get messages out to the public as to what is happening in our office.
We need to make sure that the public understands our processes and especially our deadlines. If we are communicating and educating through media, we can establish those relationships.
It is not only imperative that we reach out to the media, but they need to feel as though they can reach out to us and get the answers they are looking for. We need to work together give the best possible information to the residents of Bannock County. With my experience and knowledge, I will be able to know what information to put out and when that information is most needed for our residents. It is my belief that our relationship with you, the public, is vital to the work we do.
Code: I will work with the media honestly, and I plan on a marketing campaign to assist the residents of Bannock County in communicating with the Assessor’s Office. The first step is obtaining the local media’s help to get the message out to the residents. The residents of Bannock County have questions, and the media is the best source to answer them fairly and honestly.
The post Two candidates vying to be next Bannock County assessor appeared first on East Idaho News.

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