Incumbent Schauwecker elected to a sixth term

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | 12:09 a.m. CDT; updated 9:46 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Assessor candidate Tom Schauwecker talks to supporter Joe Cady at Shiloh Bar and Grill. Supporters gathered for a watch party Tuesday night.

COLUMBIA - Before Tuesday, Tom Schauwecker was feeling uneasy about watching the election results at Shiloh Bar & Grill.

He knew it meant winning - or losing - "in a very public way" a job he's held for almost 20 years.

Fortunately for the five-term incumbent and his supporters, it was a public victory.

Tuesday night Schauwecker handily defeated his challenger, Democrat Barb Bishop, in the race for Boone County assessor.

The final tally, released by Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren late Tuesday night, showed Schauwecker with 8,758 votes, or 62.5 percent of the ballots cast. Bishop garnered 5,248 votes, or 37.5 percent.

Schauwecker, also known as Boone County's "tax man," will serve another four-year term beginning in September 2009.

"It's been a long five months," Schauwecker said of the campaign.

Bishop, who represents Ashland's Third Ward on the town's board of aldermen and runs an independent appraisal business, said she was proud of her campaign and was thankful for "all my supporters and all and the people who went out there and voted today."

The assessor is responsible for overseeing the appraisal of all property in the county, which helps determine tax revenue.

Tuesday's primary election marked the first time since 1988 that the seat was contested.

Twenty years ago, Schauwecker defeated two opponents in the August primary and one opponent in the general election, after his predecessor decided not to seek re-election. He was sworn into office in September 1989.

Schauwecker's 2008 campaign touted the accomplishments of his 19-year tenure: the assessor's reserve fund has risen from about $100,000 to more than $1 million today; the valuation of Boone County has risen from $650,000 to $2.2 billion; and in 2004 he oversaw the implementation of a geographic information system that allows users to view county parcels and related data online, 24 hours, seven days a week.

Running on a campaign of "change" and "fairness," Bishop challenged Schauwecker on several issues.

She objected to Schauwecker implementing the use of vehicle identification numbers to appraise vehicles without telling taxpayers. She also questioned the use of voluntary sales questionnaires, which Schauwecker uses to obtain home purchase prices.

Bishop also said she would have done a better job of advertising the appeals process to taxpayers.

Schauwecker said he is proud of the "broad range of support" he saw in his re-election campaign. His contributions of about $30,000 came from teachers, doctors, lawyers, developers - even a former school principal of his - which is support he attributed to his involvement in the community for more than 40 years and the fact that people want "good government."

Before Tuesday, Bishop said she was hoping to "make history."

If elected, she would have become the first female assessor to serve Boone County.

Bishop estimates she planted more than 200 yard signs during her campaign and spent the final days of her campaign talking to voters in Centralia, Harrisburg, Ashland and Midway. Campaigning frequently brought her to Columbia, though she is a resident of Ashland.

She said that meeting people has been "the best part" of the campaign.

"It's been a really good experience," she said.

Bishop also said she thinks her campaign succeeded in "getting the information out there" to people.

"That's one thing we've done," Bishop said before the election. "We've gotten people to realize what the assessor's role is: how to do appeals, how to check out on the Web site. I really think we've done a good thing."

"I think there's been more hits on the assessor's Web site than ever before," Bishop said.

At Shiloh Bar & Grill, among his family, friends and supporters of the Stephen Webber campaign , Schauwecker admitted he was tired.

He said he plans to take some time off for rest and relaxation before he returns to the office later in August.

"We've got a lot of work ahead of us," Schauwecker said.


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