BOWLING GREEN—When she was younger, Tracy Riffle Foster said she was like a lot of young people in a small town—she was eager to get out and explore the world.
That took her to Galveston, Texas, where she started a career in real estate, as an appraiser. After more than 20 years away from her hometown of Curryville, where she was a member of the Curryville Baptist Church, Foster said she longed for life she had here when she was growing up.
“I was born and raised here, graduating from high school in 1985,” Foster said. “I just missed it, being here. I missed my family and my friends.” When she was living in Illinois, she said, she could go weeks without seeing her neighbors. Sometimes you didn’t even know who you were living next to.
“But here, you drive through town and everyone is waving and saying hi,” she said.
“I’m very grateful to be back home and to have great friends and be involved in the community,” she said.
If elected, Foster said she would like to change a few things, such as how the office of assessor does mass appraisals.
“The majority of properties are currently done as mass appraisals,” she said. “And I know there’s going to be some mass neighborhoods, because you can’t do 100 percent (individual appraisals) right from the start.”
Mass appraisals, she explained, is when you take an entire neighborhood and you get an idea of a fair market value on the properties in that subdivision. From that value, a percentage rate is determined on how much to increase or decrease taxes for that neighborhood.
“You don’t give each home its own appraisal, you just (increase every home in the neighborhood) by 1 percent,” she said. This way of doing assessments is common, she added. “In bigger cities you can’t go to every property, but I think in a small community we can do that.”
She noted that her parents, Junior and Dona Riffle, built their house 20 years ago.
“And their taxes have gone up every year for 20 years,” she said. “And at some point some properties depreciate. You can’t just keep increasing their value and taxes every year. You have to show depreciation in places (where it’s warranted).”
“There should be a new way of doing things, and a new way of thinking,” Foster said.
Her background as a certified real estate appraiser, she explained, makes her qualified to do the job of county assessor. She is running on the Republican ticket for the office.
“I’ve done this for 20 years,” she said. “I would go into that office with a different way of thinking that has been taught for years.” The elected officials who have been in the office of county assessor, she said, have all been taught by the person who had been in the office before them. “And things never get changed that way,” she added.
When she returned to Pike County, Foster said she applied for an open position in the county clerk’s office and got the job. She believes there were about 20 applicants for the job at the time. The No. 1 reason, she noted, she got the position was her common sense, which is something she says she will bring to the office of county assessor.
She likes being involved in the community. She is on the Pike County Fair Board, as well. She was recently put in charge of the Republican’s Pike County headquarters on the square in Bowling Green. She likes working with the Pike County commissioners in her current position. But she does feel bad about not being able to help the others in the office with the election. She and Laura Stumbaugh are on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election. They are barred from handling the ballots. Stumbaugh is running unopposed for the county clerk position.
It’s this sense of wanting to help the community, Foster said, which brought on the decision to run for county assessor. The thought occurred to her during the summer of 2019. That’s when she decided to put off doing appraisals here in Pike County, because, she added, you can’t be both—appraiser and assessor—it’s a conflict of interest.