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Peter Van Nortwick hoping third term is the charm

The Clark County assessor wants to educate homeowners better when it comes to property taxes

CLARK COUNTY — It’s been a rough couple of years for Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick. In 2018, property values and new statewide property taxes to pay for education funding hit, causing many homeowners to see significant increases in their property taxes.

Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick at a League of Women Voters Candidate forum this past Summer. Photo by Mike Schultz
Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick at a League of Women Voters Candidate forum this past Summer. Photo by Mike Schultz

Despite the vitriol he’s experienced, Van Nortwick was still voted back into office with nearly 60 percent of the vote, beating Ridgefield City Councilor Darren Wertz for the second consecutive time.

“In the primary I got less than I thought I was going to,” says Van Nortwick. “But we really started getting the message out why the tax increases happened, and I think once we started getting that out and people started learning exactly what was driving the property tax increases, I just saw the campaign becoming more and more positive for us.”

Despite the frustration evident in taxpayers, Van Nortwick lost barely over one percentage point compared to his 2014 win over Wertz.

While Wertz did respond to an interview request from ClarkCountyToday.com, he missed several key debates during the campaign. Wertz said he had been spending time taking care of his mother, who was ill, but hoped to run a more active campaign this time around.

Despite the comfortable victory, Van Nortwick is keenly aware that public scrutiny is increasing on the Assessor’s office. But he’s hopeful that a slow down in home appreciation and property tax relief from the state will make things a little easier on him this coming year.

“Between the state schools and the local maintenance and operations levy, which this year averaged about $5.71, next year across the county for everyone it’ll be about $4.00 (per thousand of assessed value),” Van Nortwick says.

The other major goal for his third term will be to increase education for homeowners about what’s leading to a rise in property taxes.

“Probably do a better job just letting people know what’s happening in the market, what’s happening in their taxes,” Van Nortwick says. “A lot of times I’d talk to people and they’d be ‘our house jumped $40,000, why is that?’ and I’d start telling people the median household price in Clark County jumped $46,000. That was information a lot of people just didn’t have.”

Van Nortwick says he also hopes to continue educating homeowners about new programs aimed at property tax relief for senior citizens, the disabled, and veterans, as well as incorporating new technology to make it easier for people to keep track of their property taxes.

You can read more about the Assessor’s office, and what they do, by visiting the county’s website here.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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