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Tax Assessor: Spears Pounds Maxey

Bitter race ends in landslide

By Lee Nichols, Fri., March 7, 2008

Tax Assessor Nelda Wells Spears handily crushed opponent Glen Maxey.
Tax Assessor Nelda Wells Spears handily crushed opponent Glen Maxey.
Photo by John Anderson

Travis County voters decided that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

After a bitter campaign in which challenger Glen Maxey attacked her with a host of real and imagined failings, 16-year incumbent Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Nelda Wells Spears quickly learned her worries were over – the early-vote totals showed her with a 74% lead, a number that stayed the same throughout the night. Was she worried during the campaign? "Worried is not a good word," Spears said Tuesday night at her victory party at De las Casas restaurant on East Seventh. "Weary is a better word. It's not nice to hear bad things said about you every day. It wears on a person."

So what caused Maxey's assault to fail so badly? "They looked at the tax office, and they were pleased with the past 16 years," Spears said. "The voters are proud of their tax office. I'm pleased they were willing to trust me with at least one more term.

"Of course, this is only the halfway point," Spears said, referring to her November challenge from Don Zimmerman, but it's hard to imagine he will do any better. If somebody with Glen Maxey's 12-year record as a very popular state rep could not bring down Spears, a Republican in this county has no chance. One person who had been worried was former County Judge Bill Aleshire, Spears' campaign treasurer, spokesman, and her predecessor in the tax assessor's chair. Asked what went so wrong for Maxey, Aleshire said, "Nelda Spears did her job.

"I have to apologize to Nelda for not having more confidence," said Aleshire, who had defended her with every bit the pit-bull doggedness of Maxey's attacks. "Nelda Spears may not have been perfect as tax assessor, but Glen could not say why voters should fire her. He ran this campaign for personal reasons. He threw anything he could to see what would stick, but it didn't work, and I find it inspiring. What a wonderful lesson to all the elected officials: Just do your job, and the politics will take care of itself. Glen, God love him, I've supported him many times, but this was a bad idea, and he handled it badly."

Many had speculated that this battle – pitting the only openly gay person to ever serve in the Texas Legislature against a clearly successful incumbent and African-American woman – would tear apart the Travis Co. Democratic Party. But under such a landslide, it would appear that there is no rift to heal.

"No," Aleshire said, "there's not." He added that Spears is doing such a good job that, "I wouldn't be surprised to see a 'Republicans for Nelda Spears' group get organized."

The Chronicle was unsuccessful in trying to contact Maxey for comment.


Tax Assessor-Collector

Nelda Wells Spears: 115,322 (74.3%)

Glen Maxey: 39,929 (25.7%)

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