Q&A with San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk candidates Barbara Bry and Jordan Marks

Jillian Sinder, News Editor

The main role of the San Diego Assessor/Recorder/Clerk is to manage legal document records such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, taxes, and death records in San Diego County. This year, there are two candidates running for this position: Barbara Bry, who was previously a member of the San Diego City Council, and Jordan Marks, who is the Chief Deputy Assessor/Taxpayer Advocate for the current Assessor/Recorder/Clerk.  


Barbara Bry: 

(responded via email)

Many seniors at my high school are preparing to vote for the first time and are looking for ways to relate candidates to their student lives. Why should high-schoolers, specifically, vote for you? How will your decisions impact students in the county?

A: I’m running for County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk because I believe there is an opportunity to improve and modernize this critical office that so often flies under the radar. Updating technology and outdated processes will ensure that everyone, including big corporations, will pay their fair share of property taxes under the law and that all residents are able to take advantage of tax savings programs for which they qualify. The stakes are high since this revenue source funds education, mental health initiatives, projects to fight homelessness, and other important programs that bolster our region and serve our most vulnerable residents.


What aspects of your personal background make you a good candidate for this position?

I grew up outside of Philadelphia and my parents got divorced when I was a teenager. My mother went to work full-time at a job where she was paid less than the comparable men and there was nothing she could do about it. She empowered me to believe that I could succeed in the business world, and I earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.


What aspects of your professional background make you a good candidate for this position?

My diverse career includes serving on the San Diego City Council, leading companies, and founding three organizations that empower women– Athena San Diego to empower women in the innovation economy, Run Women Run to elect more San Diego women to office, and the Workplace Equity & Civility Initiative that addresses pay inequity and sexual harassment. Currently, I serve as the Chief Financial Officer for Blackbird Ventures, which invests in early-stage companies.

I have spent more than 30 years helping to grow the San Diego innovation economy, starting with serving as the Associate Director of CONNECT, which has received international recognition for its efforts to help entrepreneurs start companies. I was the vice president of marketing in the early days of Proflowers.com (Provide Commerce) and was a co-founder of Atcom/Info, which pioneered high-speed Internet access in hotel rooms.

In the community, I have served as President of The Children’s Museum of San Diego and Vice-Chair of the Board of the Jewish Community Foundation. During the Obama administration, I was appointed by to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (2014-2015).

I believe that my diverse life experiences as an investigative journalist for The Los Angeles Times, an entrepreneur, a community volunteer, a nonprofit board member, and a wife, mother, and grandmother have prepared me to lead this office which has over 400 employees and an annual budget of $80 million. 


What is your opinion on Proposition 1 (expanding the California State Constitution to include the right to reproductive freedom)?

I’m voting yes on Proposition 1, and I’m honored to be the only candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest Action Fund and State Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, the author of Proposition 1. I served on the board of the local Planned Parenthood and have spent my life working to empower women in business, government, and healthcare.


Jordan Marks:

(responded via phone interview)

What’s the role of the assessor/recorder/clerk and what roles might high school students see in their everyday life?

We’re in charge of taxes, weddings, and birth and marriage records. When you’re registering for college and you need your birth certificate, you come to our office. When you’re going to the DMV and need your birth certificate again, that’s our office. If you’re starting a business, you get your fictitious business name through our office. And, for those that are looking to get married one day, we always say that happiness begins here. We have a lot of folks that need [birth certificates] for their passports, the DMV, and a lot of life’s moments that you get to enjoy now that you’re in high school, like getting a driver’s license, getting ready to go to college, or getting a passport to travel.


What aspects of your professional background make you a good candidate for this position?

I’m the Chief Deputy Assessor in the office right now, so I have experience running the office already. I have a certified property tax appraisal service and my opponent does not. She’s like, ‘I got this. I’m going to fly the plane. I read the manual.’ and I’m like, ‘Have you actually flown a plane before?’ and she says, ‘No, but I read the manual.’ But I think we should have the person that’s been flying planes, that has the experience and the track record, fly the plane instead.


What have you done as the Chief Deputy Assessor?

I’ve implemented a brand new website that’s mobile-friendly and translatable in multiple languages so that it’s accessible to everybody. That’s something that I’m committed to in my campaign, and also in my service, that everybody should have access. That’s why the Hispanic Chamber has endorsed me because I have years of experience working with veteran communities, homeowners, and more that speak different languages. My opponent’s website doesn’t even have a translation tool.


What ideals of both the Republican and the Democratic parties do you see influencing your decisions while serving in this position?

I like to think that I’m the consensus candidate. Everybody has endorsed me from both sides. I’ve gotten endorsements from elected officials that are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. I have over 3,000 community endorsements. I’ve been endorsed by police officers, firefighters, civil rights leaders, the African American newspaper, the Hispanic Chamber, and the Asian business association. I’ve been working with everybody and I have a reputation for being an educated person. I do my job right and that’s not partisan.


What’s one concrete addition that you would like to implement in your first few months in office?

Our website. We have an integrated property tax system [in San Diego] and we’ve been working on it for a number of years. I want to make sure that lands correctly. It’s going to come in at the end of this year and that’s going to unleash powerful technology, creating a new open data source. We can bring in the community and engage our office in a new way.