El Dorado County assessor candidates quizzed

Eileen Burke-Trent, chapter president of the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County (far left) moderates the April 28 forum of El Dorado County Assessor candidates Daniel Tuning (center) and Jon DeVille at Placerville Town Hall.
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Jon DeVille and Daniel Tuning are running to fill El Dorado County’s assessor role Karl Weiland will leave behind when he retires at the end of 2022. The two candidates answered questions April 28 at a non-partisan forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County ahead of the June 7 election.

Tuning, who lives in Rescue, has been a licensed certified public accountant in California for more than 30 years after obtaining a master’s degree in taxation from Brigham Young University. Upon graduation he joined the accounting firm Ernest & Young.

DeVille is also a resident of Rescue and graduated from California State University, San Francisco’s business school before going to work for Fortune 100 companies Sony and Oracle. In 2013 he joined the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office as chief fiscal officer.

“I know it’s a very challenging job but with my background and many of the challenges I’ve had to face I believe it’s something that I can contribute to the county and do the best job I can to be a fair assessor,” Tuning said in his opening statement. “I feel like this is right down my wheelhouse and that I’ll be able to do a great job.”

In DeVille’s opening statement he said he “understand(s) El Dorado County” and is familiar with the residents, real estate market and business community. “I believe it’s vital for an assessor to have a deep understanding of the community they serve since the assessor is the authority on determining values of business property, real estate property and personal property,” he said.

Eileen Burke-Trent, chapter president of the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County moderated the in-person and live-streamed forum held at Placerville Town Hall and posed the evening’s questions for DeVille and Tuning.

The first question asked was if a taxpayer thinks their property taxes are too high, what can the Assessor’s Office do to help?

Tuning said he would find out what staff is working on that property and try to figure out why the taxpayer was disagreeing or if they had communicated what the issues were. He might then see if a reevaluation needed to take place. If he wasn’t able to get to the bottom of it, he would talk to the property owner personally.

“If there was still no reconciling or agreeing with the assessment, then I would make sure that the taxpayer was well aware of their appeal rights,” Tuning said.

DeVille said if he is elected, a property owner can meet with him personally.

“We would discuss the details of that appraisal assessment and if the property owner had valid arguments, we could possibly change that assessment and adjust it,” DeVille said. “If we couldn’t agree on any adjustment, the property owner would have the right to appeal.”

Burke-Trent then asked about the candidates’ experience and strategy in managing employees.

Tuning said he has management experience through his work at Ernst & Young, as an accounting manager or leading people in many spectrums of business.

“It’s important we maintain those relationships with the staff and help build a team and make sure they’re adequately rewarded,” Tuning said.

DeVille said he is proud of the team he manages at the Sheriff’s Office. He said many have been promoted and have key roles within the county.

“You have to make sure you set clear organizational goals that each staff member understands and that they make sure they put those organizational goals before themselves,” DeVille said. “You have to make sure you lead by example and make sure your staff understands that they matter as much as you matter.”

Burke-Trent asked how the candidates would work with the Board of Supervisors.

“Although it’s important to get along with the board, I report to the voters in El Dorado County,” DeVille said. “With that I think it’s important to have a good working relationship with the board and with the department heads and the staff that make up this county.”

He said he has experience as a liaison for the county in regards to FEMA disaster reimbursements.

“We received around $15 million from the 2017 storm disasters,” DeVille said. “I’m working on the Caldor Fire FEMA dealings as well. In that role I have to work with multiple departments so working with the board is going to be similar to that. I’m very confident I will be able to work with them.”

Tuning cited his board experience as a student trustee on the Los Rios Community College Board of Trustees in the 1984-85 academic year.

“I think the relationships have to be nurtured and they have to be fed,” Tuning said. “You have to care about those people on the board even though you may not agree with them on certain items. I think it’s a give and take relationship and I think it can be a very healthy one.”

Once the candidates wrapped up their answers they gave closing statements.

“If elected first and foremost I will provide fair and accurate assessments and will adopt concise organizational goals that will focus on being transparent and impartial,” DeVille said. “Secondly, I will run the Assessor’s Office with efficiency. Efficiency I learned working for two Fortune 100 companies.”

In Tuning’s closing statement he said his business experience will help him in the Assessor’s Office.

“I know I can do this job and I know I have the biggest toolbox of both of us,” Tuning said. “All my clients love me. I’ve had a lot of growth in the past few years. I know what it’s like to be able to solve financial problems and tax problems.”

To watch a video of the forum online go to fb.watch/cXYZgZbK84.

El Dorado County Judge candidates make their case

Eileen Burke-Trent, chapter president of the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County (far left) moderates the April 28 forum of El Dorado County Superior judge candidates Gary Slossberg (center) and Lesley Gomes Barlow at Placerville Town Hall.
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Two candidates in a race to be an El Dorado County Superior Court judge told voters at an April 28 forum why they should be elected to the Office 7 seat.

Vying for that seat are Gary Slossberg and Lesley Gomes Barlow.

Barlow has been practicing law for more than 20 years and has worked as a deputy county attorney for El Dorado County and currently serves as such in Amador. She lives in Placerville. Slossberg has been in the law field 17 years, 7 of those in El Dorado County, including serving as a family law facilitator and superior court commissioner. He is a resident of Folsom.

The county’s next judge will be decided at the polls June 7.

“I know we both share a long-term commitment to El Dorado County and desire to do all we can for the residents,” Slossberg said.

The pair gave opening and closing statements and in between answered several questions thrown their way by Eileen Burke-Trent, chapter president of the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County. The league held the non-partisan forum in person at Placerville Town Hall and also streamed a live video of the event on Facebook.

Burke-Trent asked the candidates about their experience with people from different social, economic and political backgrounds.

Barlow spoke about spending two summers on a church mission in Tijuana, Mexico. She said the mission involved families who built their homes out of garbage.

“You’re faced directly with what it is like for someone else in another country who doesn’t have the same resources you have. They’re put in very difficult circumstances,” Barlow said. “I just wanted to pray with those people, care about those people and understand their circumstances and life.”

Slossberg said while he didn’t come from a wealthy family, they weren’t worried about where the next meal was coming from.

“I started my legal career in Los Angeles as a legal services attorney and the clients I served didn’t have that experience,” Slossberg said. “They had issues affording rent month to month and making sure they could feed their children. That certainly was an experience of dealing with people who had a different upbringing than I had and I built bridges and connections with them.”

Then the candidates were asked to tell the audience why they chose a career in law.

“I wanted to help out children in crisis,” Slossberg said. “It’s nice the way my career developed. I’m dealing with the juvenile dependency and delinquency system so I get to assist kids who are in crisis.”

His opponent was also driven to help youth.

“Ultimately when I found my way to civil service with the county, I fell in love with child welfare,” Barlow said. “And that’s when the light went on. Being in the courtroom is something I fell in love with.”

She said she learned a valuable lesson in the courtroom that will hold true if she is elected.

“You can’t make assumptions about things and you can’t assume that you know something,” Barlow said. “You always have to be asking the right questions and you have to be thorough in your inquiries.”

One of the more difficult questions of the night, Burke-Trent asked the candidates how they differ from their opponent.

They spoke of their own experience.

Slossberg told of how his current role as superior court commissioner wouldn’t be too much of a transition.

“As a court commissioner I do the job essentially of the judge right now,” Slossberg said. “There’s not too many differences. I’ve made orders in every type of case in this county aside from maybe one or two. There’s no learning curve. I’m ready to go on day one.”

Barlow spoke about how her experience in the courtroom as an advocate and practitioner has given her a unique point of view.

“I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work,” Barlow said. “I’ve been in front of so many judges who I’ve learned from and that’s something I think will help me be a good judge.”

Watch a video of the forum online at fb.watch/cWoGOoqUHJ.