On the eve of today's filing deadline, a lively race is shaping up for the low-profile job of Los Angeles County assessor with incumbent John Lynch drawing six challengers, including his former secretary, the head of a taxpayers group and an assessor's employee named Kenneth P. Hahn.
Hahn, the candidate, is no relation to veteran Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who has endorsed Lynch.
Jay Curtis, president of the 350-member Los Angeles Taxpayers Assn., on Thursday declared his candidacy for the job, which will pay $130,869 a year when the new four-year term begins on Dec. 1.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday March 10, 1990 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 6 Metro Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Assessor's race--In a story Friday about the Los Angeles County assessor's race, the captions for photos of Assessor John Lynch and Jay Curtis of the Los Angeles Taxpayers Assn. were transposed.
PHOTO: John Lynch
PHOTO: Jay Curtis
Curtis, an attorney, is receiving free help from professional campaign manager Ron Smith, who engineered Deane Dana's 1980 election to the county Board of Supervisors. Curtis said he has put $40,000 of his own money into the campaign and raised another $40,000 from supporters.
Other challengers include four current or former assessor's employees: Monica Anderson, Sid Delgado, John Carl Brogdon and Hahn. Also running is Joe Gardner, a retired employee in the county chief administrator's office.
Anderson, who left the assessor's office in 1988 after two years as Lynch's executive secretary, on Thursday called the assessor a "bully."
But Lynch said she once sent him a birthday card calling him "the best boss I ever had."
"She seemed to like me when she was here," said Lynch. "And I've got it in writing."
Delgado, a former high-ranking assessor's employee who ran against Lynch in 1986, said he was "exiled" by the assessor to the county office in South El Monte after that election.
Lynch said that he has never retaliated against Delgado or any other political opponent in his office.
During a press conference outside the County Hall of Administration, Curtis of the taxpayers group charged that "Lynch has been in office for almost four years now, and has created a nightmare for the taxpayers, who still have to wait months for a simple question to be answered and even longer for a problem to be resolved."
Lynch's colorful personality is expected to dominate the campaign for the obscure assessor's job. The assessor is responsible for determining the taxable value of about 2.1 million properties in the county.
During his first term in office, Lynch has tossed county auditors out of his office and been accused of assaulting an employee during a heated argument over the worker's union activities. Lynch denied assaulting the employee, who filed a complaint with the Civil Service Commission that resulted in a non-monetary settlement.
Lynch was a 14-year veteran of the lower ranks in the assessor's office before his election in 1986. He used his ties as a long-time Republican volunteer in the San Fernando Valley--and an endorsement from the late tax fighter Howard Jarvis--to win the job vacated by Alexander Pope, who ran for another post.
To qualify for a spot on the June 5 ballot, a candidate must collect only 20 voters' signatures and pay a $953 fee. The signatures will be validated over the next week.
Lynch, an underdog in his first run for the office, now leads the pack in fund raising, having collected $130,000 so far. His campaign is being managed by veteran GOP political consultant Allan Hoffenblum.