Former St. Tammany Parish Assessor Patricia Schwarz Core isn’t running for the office she held for five terms, but that didn’t prevent her from being part of the debate between incumbent Louis Fitzmorris and challenger Chip Bankston on Monday night.
Fitzmorris, who defeated Core in 2011, told the audience at Abita Town Hall that he inherited a mess from Core, with assessments that were “all over the place.’’
Fitzmorris took office in 2013, and the last reassessment year, 2012, took place under his predecessor. Next year is also a reassessment year.
Bankston defended Core. “As far as I know, the previous administration did a pretty good job,’’ he said.
An audience member at the Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany-sponsored forum asked Bankston about the support he’s received from Core, who has passed out his cards and taken other measures to help him.
Bankston replied that he is taking help wherever he can get it. “I’m a political virgin,’’ he said.
But Core wasn’t only a subject of debate — she joined the fray, standing up at the end of the forum to ask Fitzmorris why he let so many qualified staff members go. Then she took a shot at Sheri Campbell, Fitzmorris’ director of public and intergovernmental relations, saying that Campbell had owned a snowball stand before working for the assessor.
Campbell fired back at Core and then appealed to the debate’s moderator. “Are you going to allow that, Rick Franzo?’’ she asked.
Franzo asked Core to sit down and quickly moved to closing statements.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter at @spagonesadvocat.