Assessor-recorder Ting close to winning assessor race

By Justin Jouvenal
Published November 9th 2005 in The San Francisco Examiner
Newly appointed Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting was close to edging Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval for assessor-recorder on Tuesday night in an unusually hard-fought race in which both major candidates promised to bring change to the troubled office.

Ting would be the only Chinese-American elected to a citywide office in San Francisco.

Ting picked up 47 percent and Sandoval had 39 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting. The third candidate in the race, certified public accountant Ron Chun, received 15 percent of the vote.

Since no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote, the instant run-off voting system will be used in the race.

The victory would be a strong one for the 36-year-old Ting: He had little name recognition and no experience in public office before Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him as assessor in July. He would fill the seat vacated by Mabel Tang, who resigned amid charges she hired political cronies.

Ting, who began his career as a real estate appraiser with the now defunct Arthur Andersen firm, ran on a platform of bringing professionalism to an office that has often been guided by politicians with little experience in the field.

Since taking office, Ting launched a number of new initiatives aimed at reforming the office, including a whistleblower program to catch tax cheats, a new assessment program to increase revenue from city billboards and a new computer system that he said should improve the efficiency of the office.

"I'm humbled by the opportunity to serve if I win. We are going to roll out an agenda of reform." Ting said.

The Assessor's Office race does not usually draw a lot of attention, but the candidates managed to grab headlines by exchanging barbs throughout the race.

With less money and name recognition, Chun was content to let Ting and Sandoval sling mud at each other. He did not return a call for comment on Tuesday night.

The Assessor's Office plays a crucial role in filling The City's coffers, setting the value of more than $1 billion worth of residential and commercial properties across The City for the purposes of taxation. Sandoval ran on a platform of making sure The City receives its fair share of taxes from big commercial property owners, reforming its computer system and boosting morale among employees.

"They haven't counted a significant portion of the votes," Sandoval said shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday. "I've said all along if I'm not elected assessor, I will be proud to continue to serve as supervisor. It was a tremendous campaign."