Two strong candidates are running for King County Assessor. John Wilson is the better choice.

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CHOOSING the next King County assessor is not an easy task for voters.

Both candidates — incumbent Lloyd Hara and challenger John Wilson — are experienced public-servants with similar Democratic leanings.

The Times recommends:


John Wilson

John Wilson

King County assessor

Strengths: Creativity and resourcefulness; commitment to explore new, cost-saving approaches

Wilson gets our endorsement because he’s shown creativity and resourcefulness in improving the assessor’s technology platform. ... Wilson’s commitment to explore new, cost-saving approaches makes him the better candidate to advance the office."

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Each has endorsements from their many friends in the government and labor establishment.

They also worked together for years, jointly improving the assessor’s office before a falling out. Now they peck at each other like divorcees at a custody hearing.

Hara has the deeper résumé with a career spanning five decades. But Wilson gets our endorsement because he’s shown creativity and resourcefulness in improving the assessor’s technology platform.

Still, Hara deserves kudos for his public service. The Army veteran worked as a legislative analyst, became county auditor at 29 and then served four terms as Seattle’s treasurer. That was followed by stints as the regional FEMA director and Port of Seattle commissioner before he was first elected assessor in 2009.

Wilson, a former print and TV journalist, has moved between government and public-affairs jobs. At King County, he was chief of staff to former County Executive Ron Sims and later served as Hara’s chief deputy for nearly four years.

Wilson left the office after he and Hara sparred over a technology project. Wilson led the development of an iPad app that replaced a clunky, expensive PC-based system used by assessors in the field. The new tool was so successful that Wilson worked with a consultant to license it for sale to other assessors and generate revenue for the county.

Hara declined to pursue that option, leading to Wilson’s departure, but he’s done other tech projects, including the creation of a property-information portal.

Wilson has since been a project manager in the county’s information-technology department.

Major changes aren’t needed. Within the county, the assessor’s office is considered well-run and one of the better places to work. But Wilson’s commitment to explore new, cost-saving approaches makes him the better candidate to advance the office.