LAS CRUCES – Daniel Sambrano, a senior appraiser in the Doña Ana County Assessor’s Office, is campaigning to lead the office he’s worked in for more than a decade. Sambrano is running in the Democratic primary.
Current County Assessor Leticia Benavidez is not seeking reelection. There are no Republicans running for assessor. Minor party, independent and write-in candidates must file on June 30.
The Democratic primary will take place June 7. Sambrano is running against Ruben Reyes, a former employee in the assessor’s office, and Gina Ortega, a bakery owner who has previously run for Las Cruces mayor and county treasurer unsuccessfully, in the primary race.
Sambrano, 38, grew up in the Village of Doña Ana and graduated from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces. He completed some college coursework at New Mexico State University, he said, but never finished a degree — though he said he would like to.
In 2003, Sambrano said he began working at the assessor’s office as a document technician at 19. He worked his way up to a residential appraiser position. In 2015, Sambrano left the county to take a job in state government, working for three years as an appraisal specialist with the New Mexico Property Tax Division.
Following his stint in state government, Sambrano returned to the county to take a senior appraiser spot in the commercial division of the assessor’s office in 2018. Cumulatively, he’s worked for over 15 years in the county assessor’s office.
“It was interesting, because during those three years you get to visit other assessor’s offices around the state and see how they operate, good and bad,” Sambrano said. “So I was able to bring all of that knowledge back to Doña Ana County.”
Sambrano also said he gained a deeper knowledge of the property tax code in his time in state government.
Sambrano said if elected, he’d increase education and training to office staff, increase office transparency and improve relations between the office and the public. He also said he’d like to implement an online notice of value system as a way to increase convenience for residents and save the county money on the cost of mail.
In the past four years, Sambrano said the assessor’s office has been like a ship “at dock.”
“It’s not sinking because (you’ve) got us career folks that are keeping it afloat,” Sambrano said. “So at least (it’s) not sinking. But we need a captain at the top to take us out to sea and set the office in a particular course.”
One change Sambrano said he’d like to implement immediately is to conduct individual evaluations of every staff member in the office, compare their performances against counterparts at other offices across the state and give pay raises to those who have earned it.
To improve public relations, Sambrano wants to improve the assessor’s office’s website and social media presence. He wants to implement an online chat feature similar to the system in place on the Santa Fe County Assessor’s Office website.
“Before this administration, Doña Ana (County) was looked at as a shining star in assessment around the state,” Sambrano said. “They looked at us for guidance and for leadership and our margins as far as the numbers and where they should be, according to national standards, was amazing.”
Sambrano thinks those standards have declined, and if elected, his aim is to bring them back up to their former heights.
Sambrano is also in favor of proactively engaging with community members to educate them about what the office does and how it works, such as by visiting schools and other community spaces. He also wants to fill several positions left vacant in the assessor’s office.
Sambrano sits on the board of the Doña Ana Village Association, sat on the Whole Enchilada Fiesta Board, serves as vice-chair for Ward 4 of the county Democratic Party and has served as president of the local Elks Lodge for two non-consecutive one- year terms.
Michael McDevitt is a city and county government reporter for the Sun News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, [email protected] or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.
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