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Local appraiser seeks assessor’s post; Daniel Pruitt plans first run for public office

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Daniel Pruitt says he would strive to bring more information to the public about the operations of the Chaves County Assessor’s Office if he were to be elected assessor in November. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A Roswell native and current Chaves County appraiser is seeking the elected office of Chaves County Assessor.

“I didn’t even know what the Assessor’s Office was when I took the job,” said Daniel Pruitt, a registered Republican, “but I fell in love with the job.”

An appraiser for almost four years, Pruitt conducts tax valuations on county properties.

He expects to run against his boss, Mark Willard, also a Republican, who has spoken publicly of his intention to run again for the office, according to several sources.

Willard was elected to the office most recently in 2014. The position now pays about $65,855 a year. Willard also previously served for a couple of terms until term limits made him ineligible to hold the office for a few years.

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Making his first bid for public office, Pruitt said he is not running against Willard’s leadership, but thinks voter would be served by having additional choices.

“I am not running against Mark,” he said. “I am running for myself. He is not doing anything wrong, but this America and it is my right to run if I want. … I think I could bring a new set of eyes to things.”

He said the office has been held by the same few people for many years and that change could be good.

“I wish there were 10 people running,” he said. “That way there would be a competition of ideas.”

Contenders could still enter the race. The official filing date for county and statewide offices is March 13, with primaries occurring June 5 and the general election to be held Nov. 6.

Pruitt said that state statutes dictate most of the operations of the Assessor’s Office, so he does not think that major changes will occur in the future. But he said he would work to introduce more openness and accessibility to the office by using social media sites to inform the public about how the office operates, how taxes are computed and which entities receive the taxes collected.

He also said that he also wants to train office staff in various aspects of the work so that successions and transitions could occur easily when positions are vacated.

Pruitt, who served at Fort Knox for the U.S. Army from 2011 to 2013, earned an associate’s degree in business administration from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell. He said he is close to finishing a bachelor’s degree in business from Eastern New Mexico University.

He graduated from the Leadership Roswell program in 2016, an organization he continues to serve as treasurer. He recently was selected as one of the Chaves County Republican Party’s delegates to the New Mexico Republican Party pre-primary convention. As a delegate, he will vote on candidates for statewide and Congressional offices seeking to be on the Republican primary ballot.

Pruitt said he also owns a small business — an RV storage site —and is a member of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis International.

On a personal side, the 2005 Goddard High School graduate said that he is engaged to marry Evelynn Lopez and that they have four elementary school-age children in local schools.

Willard was out of the office and unavailable for comment by press time.

He holds an associate’s degree from New Mexico Military Institute and a bachelor’s degree in finance from Eastern New Mexico University, according to a LinkedIn profile and prior press reports.

He has worked with the Chaves County Assessor’s Office since 1992.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.