ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–The two men running for St. Louis County Assessor clashed cordially during a debate at KMOX.
Democratic State Representative Jake Zimmerman is running against Republican L.K. “Chip” Wood. Both men were chosen by their parties to appear on the April ballot, after county voters decided they want the assessor elected — rather than appointed.
The two disagreed on why Zimmerman voted against a bill in the state legislature that would have allowed county voters to decide whether the office should be elected rather than appointed.
Zimmerman: “I thought it was inappropriate for the state of Missouri to try to force St. Louis County voters whether to have an election or not. But I thought it was great when the County Council voted as a local decision to make this an elected office.”
Wood: “I don’t understand what he just said. I’m sorry, It sounds like he was trying to keep it off the ballot. Were you not trying to keep it from being an elected position?”
Zimmerman: “That’s not the case at all.”
Zimmerman was asked if Wood — who is a realtor and will still have his family running L.K Wood Realty — would have a conflict of interest working as the County Assessor.
“What I think the people of St. Louis County are looking for is someone who has public management experience, and who understands what it takes to manage a complicated bureaucratic agency,” Zimmerman said, “I don’t think people are looking for a representative of a special interest group.”
Wood says he sees no conflict of interest being connected to real estate, but he questioned whether Zimmerman — because he is a Democrat — might come under the sway of the Democratic County Executive.
“You have to have somebody get in there and make the job done right without any influence,” Wood said, “My common sense tells me that there’s gonna be influence.”
Zimmerman bristled at the suggestion party politics might influence him. “There is not a Democratic way to assess a house. There is not a Republican way to assess a house,” Zimmerman said, “There is only the right way, the fair way, the transparent way.”
“I totally agree,” Wood responded, “However, what I would say to you is I think this office is so broke, you need somebody who is independent. You don’t need a politician.”
The two men shook hands after the debate and agreed they would meet again at other forums. The election is set for April.