Douglas County Assessor Diane Battiato appeared to win re-election Tuesday night.
Battiato led by about 1,300 votes over challenger Walt Peffer in unofficial results.
“It was a very close race, but we fought hard, we did everything we could and we did everything the right way,” Battiato said. “I’m very honored to have another four-year term.”
Asked what she would like to say to Douglas County Board members who recruited and backed Peffer, Battiato said, “I hope we can move forward. We need to move forward together.”
Battiato, Douglas County’s longtime register of deeds, was trying to hold on to her seat after a bumpy first term of also setting property valuations for tax purposes.
Peffer, a real estate executive, former Omaha city official and a key consultant in creating the Ralston Arena, was trying to capitalize on the unpopularity of valuation increases.
Battiato, a Democrat, had been county register of deeds since 2004. She was elected to the newly combined assessor/register of deeds office in 2014. In 2016, the state ordered across-the-board increases on home valuations in large parts of west and central Omaha after determining that Battiato’s valuations were too low. The state also ordered an across-the-board decrease, later reversed, in much of northeast Omaha.
In 2017, many homeowners reacted angrily to proposed large increases in their valuations. While Battiato defended the increases as accurately reflecting a rising real estate market, she dialed them back and instituted changes aimed at preventing such “sticker shock.”
Peffer was recruited to run by Douglas County Board member P.J. Morgan, in whose real estate business Peffer works. Three other county board members also endorsed Peffer.
He raised $94,000 compared with Battiato’s $53,000-plus.