Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

Quay County's mapper hired as assessor


March 22, 2023

Quay County commissioners apparently couldn’t resist the prospect of a 2-for-1 situation in hiring an assessor.

Commissioners on March 13 unanimously chose the county’s geographic information system mapper, Dana Leonard, as its next assessor. They interviewed five candidates for the position.

Leonard, interviewed in his office the day after he was hired, said he would continue to hold down his mapping duties when he takes over the assessor position in June.

Leonard noted Daniel Zamora previously held his spot and as emergency manager before being hired as county manager in 2021.

“This was a rare opportunity for me to move up,” Leonard said. “I moved back to Tucumcari about two years ago and wanted to make a difference in my community. I plan to keep my current job and be assessor; that’s not unheard-of in New Mexico.”

He acknowledged offering to do both duties might have been a good selling point to commissioners.

Leonard said he also took NM EDGE assessor-related classes through New Mexico State University.

“It worked out really well,” he said.

Leonard said he pitched to commissioners an initiative to place assessor data online via interactive maps. He said such data for the Village of Logan already has been finished, though doing the entire county likely would require years of effort.

According to a public records request, other applicants for the assessor position were:

— Paula Chacon, Tucumcari’s current city manager since August;

— James Kleinsasser, Quay County’s current chief deputy assessor;

— Jefferson Byrd, a rural Tucumcari rancher and recent former member of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission;

— Cathy Avery, an agent at Young Insurance Agency and bookkeeper at Evans Farms.

Current Assessor Janie Hoffman announced in February she was stepping down after a total of 14 years in the position.

Hoffman said she and her husband were in the process of purchasing Western Plains Title in Tucumcari. She said that in her opinion, staying in her assessor position while co-owning the company would be a conflict of interest.

Hoffman will remain as assessor through the end of the fiscal year on June 30. That’s also about the time she anticipates the Western Plains purchase would be finalized.

“She has a great team in there,” Leonard said of Hoffman’s staff. “I’m assuming we’ll work well together. I obviously have a ton to learn from the experienced pros in that group.”

Hoffman has been in the assessor’s office since 1991. She was re-elected as assessor in November after facing no opposition.

The assessor’s salary, set by the state, is $58,360 annually. The assessor’s office assesses properties subject to valuation for taxation purposes within the county and mails notices of tax valuation to the owners.

Leonard would hold the assessor position through November 2024, which would be the next election.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” he said. “I need to make sure I do a good job in the next year and a half, since I’ll have to run for office. I need to make sure people are happy with me.”


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