COLUMBIA — Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker likes to keep track of things.
And in his 19 years in office, he’s most proud of his role in changing the way Boone County keeps track of what’s happening with property.
Schauwecker, a Democrat, is unopposed on the Nov. 4 ballot for a sixth four-year term as assessor after winning a hard-fought August primary against Barbara Bishop of Ashland. Now, it’s back to business, but he believes he’s already made his mark on the assessor’s office.
“I believe my legacy will be the acronym GIS: geographic information systems,” Schauwecker said.
The geographic information system is an electronic database that maps Boone County’s 627 square miles. Freely available on the Internet (To access it, go to showmeboone.com/assessor), it tells the public with the click of a mouse who owns which tracts, how much acreage they contain, how much they’re worth and what the owner pays in property taxes. It also provides information about zoning and which school and water districts govern properties.
Schauwecker said the system boosts efficiency because it makes the information easily available not only to residents but also various governments.
“That’s our inventory control, to make sure every parcel of land is accounted for,” Schauwecker said.
Before the system’s launch in 2004, the assessor’s office kept its records on graph paper in a binder and after 1985 on large orthophoto maps.
Schauwecker prefers to keep his own records “old school.” Brown planners dated from 1998 to 2007 are arranged chronologically on the shelf behind his desk, along with the already purchased volume for 2009. The planner for 2008 is on the desk next to his computer.
The reason Schauwecker hasn’t switched from paper to technology to keep track of his own life is that so many of his activities revolve around his wife, Sharon, his high school sweetheart; and their children Kurt, 21, a senior at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla; and Anne, 19, a freshman at Truman State University in Kirksville.
“Family’s first, first priority, and I make it clear to my staff that that’s perfectly acceptable to me. Family’s first, before your vocation,” Schauwecker said.
Schauwecker likes to have a tangible record of what was going on at any given date in the family’s history, along with his personal reflections on those events.
“It’s kind of a diary and also a tool,” Schauwecker said.
August was busy.
On Aug 5, he defeated Barbara Bishop in the Democratic primary, the only contested election he has faced since he first ran for assessor in 1988. On Aug. 14, he and Sharon celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary, and on Aug. 17 he marked his 55th birthday by becoming an empty nester and helping Anne move into her school's dorms.
Just like Schauwecker is always there for his family, he said they are always there for him. Not only did his wife and children help him with his campaign for a sixth term; but his brother, sister, nieces, nephews, parents and in-laws also helped out by appearing in parades throughout the county, knocking on doors and placing signs in yards.
It was during a family meeting that Schauwecker decided on the strategy that he believes won him re-election: to alter the tone of his campaign to emphasize his character and accomplishments.
“That’s when I quit playing defense and told them what we’ve done and who we are,” Schauwecker said. “That’s when things turned around.”
Schauwecker has plenty to keep track of for the months that remain in his fifth, and upcoming sixth, term as assessor. The assessed valuation of the county has risen from $650 million when he took office to about $2.2 billion today.
“I have to keep my finger on the pulse on the real estate market, maintain an accurate reading of what’s going on in the real estate market. ... That’s a huge task, 687 square miles, about 60,000 parcels of real estate and a staff of 15.”
RESIDENCE: 2606 Walther Court
PERSONAL: 55. Married to Sharon Schauwecker, a retired teacher who worked in the Columbia Public Schools system for 30 years. They have two children, Kurt, 21, and Anne, 18.
PARTY AFFILIATION: Democrat
CAMPAIGN WEB SITE: SchauweckerForAssessor.com
OCCUPATION: Boone County Assessor since 1989; previously worked as a staff appraiser for the Boone County Assessor's Office (1981-85) and a fee appraiser for Moore & Shryock Real Estate Appraisal & Consulting Services (1985-89)
EDUCATION: Earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from MU in 1979 and continued relevant education. Professional licenses include state-certified general real estate license (1992-present), a Missouri brokers license (1998-present) and a Missouri real estate sales license (1977).
BACKGROUND: Volunteer for United Way of Missouri; Boy Scouts of America merit-badge counselor; member of the Daniel Boone Little League Board of Directors from 1993 to 2000; member of the Boone County Fair Board from 1993 to 1999; member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Council from 1992 to 1995.