Two employees file to replace county assessor

Two employees in the Thurston County Assessor's Office have announced their plans to run for assessor in hopes of succeeding Patricia Costello.

Costello, 70, who has held the office since 1999, has announced that she will not seek a fourth four-year term. Her term ends in December.

Jeff Gadman, a longtime appraiser in the office, and Dennis Pulsipher, Costello’s chief deputy, have announced their intention to succeed her starting in 2011. Both are Democrats.

Gadman, 48, is one of three commercial appraisers in the office. He started working in the office as a part-time employee at the front counter in October 1986. He was promoted to his current job in 1997.

He vowed to improve operations in the office and use taxpayer money more efficiently. He declined to go into details until the race progresses.

Gadman is president of his homeowners association and is past president of the parent-teacher association for South Bay Elementary School. He and his wife, Meren, live in Lacey and have two grown sons and a granddaughter.

Pulsipher, 54, has worked as the chief deputy assessor for a decade. He also held assessment jobs for nearly 20 years in King and Pierce counties and at the state Department of Revenue.

He vowed to continue the office’s core mission of fairly valuing property as well as community outreach and the use of technology to make more efficient use of the office’s budget.

Pulsipher lives in Olympia with his wife, Myong, and a daughter and a nephew. He has taught English as a second language at the former Thurston County Refugee Center and leads a church youth group that cooks and serves Sunday meals to homeless and low-income residents.

Pulsipher has lent $600 to his campaign, according to records filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. The campaign has spent most of the money to rent a venue for a campaign kickoff event and to set up a candidate Web site, records show.

Both men are native Washingtonians.

Other candidates can file until June.

The county assessor is responsible for identifying and fairly valuing real and personal property for tax purposes. It’s been a challenging past year for elected officials as they have had to lay off employees and cut services because of budget cuts. Costello has said her budget was cut 30 percent and that office staffing levels are below what they were before 1993.

Costello was paid $105,000 in base salary last year.

In addition to assessor, county voters will elect a new prosecuting attorney, treasurer and sheriff. As well, Commissioner Karen Valenzuela will run for a new four-year term. In November, voters elected her to finish the unexpired four-year term of former commissioner Bob Macleod, who resigned in December 2008. Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Valenzuela to the seat in February.

Christian Hill: 360-754-5427