Joe Pickett car collection

Former state Rep. Joe Pickett with his car collection in 2019. The one-bedroom building is also his residence.

Joe Pickett, a former state representative and El Paso city representative, hasn’t announced that he might run for the District 5 City Council seat held by Isabel Salcido, but he has named a campaign treasurer.

Naming a campaign treasurer allows a candidate or possible candidate to accept campaign contributions and is usually the first step someone intending to run for office takes before announcing their candidacy.

The next City Council election is in November 2022.

Pickett, 64, served a single term on City Council from 1991 to 1993 before running for state representative in 1995. He won the seat and kept it for 24 years until 2019.

“I may run for my old House seat,” Pickett told El Paso Inc. last week. “I’m just covering my bases. I’m going to run for one or the other.”

These days, Pickett is in business, keeps a personal museum of vintage cars, including an old fire truck, and collects a hefty retirement for his time in state office.

So, what might lure a guy like Pickett back to the hassles and demands of political life?

Was it outrage over the El Paso state delegation joining other Democrats in the Texas House in a walkout earlier this month, fleeing to Washington, D.C., to deny the Republican majority a quorum?

No, he agrees with them.

Unhappiness about city taxes and spending?

Close, but no.

How about the unexpected and, he believes, outrageously unwarranted $132,919 increase in his home’s property appraisal, which pushes it to more than $256,564 – a 93% increase?

Or the fact that the Central Appraisal District increased the valuation of his commercial property from $334,766 to $920,020 even though he hadn’t improved it?

Yes, that would be it. But it took a dissatisfying experience before one of the appraisal district’s appraisal review boards to really make him mad.

Because of the 10% annual cap on increases in homestead valuations, the taxable value of his house will only go up $136,010 this year, but it will go up 10% every year going forward until the full assessed value – minus his exemptions – is on the tax rolls.

He also has a small commercial property that shot up 275% in this year’s property revaluation.

Then there’s also the matter of a rock wall that cost him $4,500 to build some years ago that the appraisal district valued at $52,000, he said.

“You look at it and wonder who in their right mind would value that wall at $52,000?” he said. “The whole point is the taxpayer isn’t being treated fairly, and by the (Central Appraisal District).”

While the El Paso County district clerk’s online records for lawsuits only showed two dozen or so cases pending against the CAD last week, Pickett said, “My attorney said they filed 268 valuation appeals as of last Friday.”

They will take the clerk’s office a while to input to the electronic filing system.

Pickett said his experience with the appraisal district isn’t the only reason he’s thinking about running, and he knows that as a City Council member, he would have no power over it but for a vote on the city’s appointed member of the board.

And while the board oversees the appraisal district’s budgetary and personnel matters, it is prohibited from trying to influence property valuations.

But if he runs for City Council and wins, Pickett said, “I will be working with state representatives and senators on suggestions to reform central appraisal district practices.”


Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at dcrowder@elpasoinc.com or call (915) 630-6622.

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