Orleans Parish has a single assessor responsible for appraising property values, which then get used to calculate property taxes. A higher appraised value means higher taxes for any home or business. Erroll Williams (D) has been the citywide assessor since seven offices merged into one in 2011. Before that, he served as one of the seven. Prior to the reform, Williams assessed properties on the East Bank downriver of Esplanade. He’s presently being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for using a disaster exception that allows for reassessment outside of the regular schedule to address short term fluctuations in property value. The resulting reduced reassessments of hotels - a lot of them owned by out-of-state umbrella companies connected to local developers - shaved millions of dollars from several corporate hotel developer's property taxes, leaving individual homeowners ended up paying the difference. Williams responds that he made these decisions based on an “independent report” from the UNO Institute of Economic Development and Real Estate Research - a front for a network of local developers including Latter & Blum CFO Robert Penick (institute director), bizneworleans and the Chamber of Commerce’s Todd Matherne, William Hindman of FQ Hotels, Adrian Pappalardo whose relative Albert Pappalardo is a prominent commercial real-estate developer and Joseph Pappalardo, a longtime business partner of Penick’s and VP at Latter & Blum, all of whom benefit from the property tax decreases. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it- but you sure are paying for it.
Long-shot candidate Anthony Brown (D) is an electrician and wants to abolish the assessor’s office. He tried to challenge Williams in 2017, but was kicked off the ballot for failure to file income taxes, paving the way for Willaims’ unopposed re-election. Brown sued that state over the disqualification in 2018, saying that he hadn’t made enough money to file income taxes for two years after 2012. Claiming a vast array of corruption from Williams, Brown is quoted on Nola.com saying, “People are getting bamboozled. People are getting robbed. People are getting deceived.” He’s not wrong about that.
Andrew (Low Tax) Gressett (D) changed his middle name for this race. A litigious slip-and-fall guy who’s no stranger to the courts nor to the campaign trail, Gressett loves to pull cheap stunts for attention, up to and including heckling councilmembers. There’s not much indication of how he’d work in office to live up to his newfound name.
Carlos J. Hornbrook (D) is an estate planning attorney, which means he advises people with significant financial assets in managing and allocating those funds, his main cited experience for the assessor’s office. He emphasizes small business ownership in the 9th Ward, Central City, and New Orleans East. Among his more specific and interesting proposals is to appraise properties used as short-term rentals higher, based on the owner’s income, and would be willing to enforce it through subpoena. He is the current vice president of the embattled Dryades YMCA, accused of misusing $1 million in funds for Singleton Charter School.