Assessor resigns, Soliz appointed
About five weeks after losing his re-election bid, Crook County Assessor Brian Huber resigned effective June 22.
Huber, who had lost to employee Jon Soliz by a wide margin during the May 2018 primary election, did not publicly give a reason for his departure. He instead submitted a single-sentence letter to the Crook County Clerk's Office that was filed June 18.
To fill the vacancy, the Crook County Court appointed Soliz to assessor, his interim position lasting until Jan. 1, when his elected four-year term begins.
Huber first ascended to the assessor role in January 2013. He was appointed to the position after his predecessor, Tom Green, retired, and he was later elected to a four-year term in 2014. He took office with 25 years of experience as an appraiser, 18 of which were spent in the Crook County Assessor's Office. The last 10 of those years he served as the chief appraiser.
During his tenure, Huber achieved several accolades but endured some controversy as well. The assessor's office earned the 2016 Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration, which is awarded by the International Association of Assessing Officers.
However, Huber enacted a new policy of conducting on-site business inspections for the purposes of assessing taxation that prompted outcry from several local companies. Up to that point, businesses had been asked to self-report taxable business property.
Soliz, who joined the assessor's office staff in 2006, ran against Huber, with the stated goal of making the office more business-friendly and citizen-centered. He said that during his work as an appraiser, he had heard from some business owners and residents that the office was too rigid and intrusive in its approach.
Soliz ultimately defeated Huber, winning 60.5 percent of the roughly 5,500 votes cast during the primary election last month. It was the first contested Crook County Assessor race in at least 40 years.
"I have enjoyed my 19 years with the county and have seen a lot of changes throughout the years," Huber said after his loss. "I am very proud of my tenure as assessor, the changes that were made and the work that was completed. I rest easy knowing that every decision that was made was based on what is best for the entire community and not for my own political gain."
Huber was eligible to remain in office until Dec. 31, the final day of his four-year term, but opted to resign early, leaving open the possibility to appoint Soliz for the remainder of the calendar year.
Wednesday morning, the Crook County Court voted in favor of the appointment, and County Clerk Cheryl Seely swore Soliz in as family and friends cheered.
"I am excited to have a little deeper care for my office and the community and start that right now," Soliz said. "So, here we go."