McHugh to Challenge Stone in Assessor’s Race

Supervisor Pete McHugh announces campaign against three-term
incumbent assessor
San Jose – It’s not likely to get a lot of scrutiny, but the race for Santa Clara County Assessor will be interesting to those who pay attention.

Sunday, Supervisor Pete McHugh announced he will take on three-term incumbent Larry Stone for the assessor’s post. It’s the first time Stone has had serious opposition since he won a contested race in 1994.

“It’s going to be very interesting because I don’t think they like each other,” Supervisor Don Gage said. “It should be right up there with the San Jose mayor’s race and the district attorney race.”

McHugh could not be reached for comment Monday, but his distaste for Stone has been an open secret. Last month, he was chastised by his fellow board members for trying to engineer a new ethics policy that he admitted was aimed at Stone.

With an eye on Stone’s property development interests and fundraising activities, McHugh tried to change county law to prohibit elected officials from certain kinds of outside employment and force them to disclose all of their fundraising efforts.

“There is an implied power in his office to solicit donations. He has a power to influence assessments and settlements of appeal,” McHugh, who, like Stone, is a Democrat, said at the time. “There is a perceived conflict of interest in his business as a developer and I would like him to concentrate on his duties as assessor.”

Stone said Monday he welcomes the opportunity to campaign and compared running unopposed to attending school and not getting a report card. He also was ready with sharp barbs for McHugh, whom he called a spendthrift with public money.

“In his entire career he’s been involved in spending the revenue assessments. It’s a job he seems to love to do,” Stone said. “To put a person with a career in spending public money in charge of a very sensitive office would be a mistake, in my judgment.”

With 11 months until election day, Gage said he expects a heated campaign.

“The assessor is a person most people don’t like because that’s a person you only think about twice a year when you pay your taxes,” Gage said. “It’s not going to be a popularity contest. I have a feeling it will be negative.”

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