New candidate seeking reform in tax process assessment, appeals process

Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson is seeking the Republican nomination for District 59 state representative.

The current District 59 state representative is Republican Milo Smith, who is serving his fifth term.

Wilson said he’s running to reform critical defects in the tax assessment and appeals process.

Although he said he’s not a one-issue candidate, Wilson described those defects as a hidden danger that he feels is the greatest financial threat facing the state.

In his announcement, Wilson said state laws passed since 2011 have crippled the tax appeal process in a manner that hurts county taxpayers as a whole and directly favor those who appeal assessments and their tax lawyers.

These laws have cost Indiana cities and counties vital budget revenue that is needed to fund schools and to provide emergency services such as fire and police, while unfairly shifting the additional tax burden to county residents, Wilson said.

Unless those laws are changed, “counties will be getting into some very serious problems in the next two to four years,” Wilson said.

He said he wants the state to shift to using standard market value in assessing businesses as most states already do, rather than assessing a property’s “value in use.”

Several factors contributed to the fiscal crisis that Bartholomew County government has been facing this year, including the assessment and appeals defects, he said.

Wilson said his knowledge and experience provide him with an understanding of what needs to be done to restore balance to the property assessment and appeal processes.

He also supports Gov. Mike Pence’s efforts to eliminate conflicts of interest and ethics violations at all levels of state government.

When Wilson first ran for Bartholomew County assessor in 2006, he was defeated in the primary by then-incumbent Tom Owens. But four years later, he defeated Owens with 57.6 percent of the votes cast in the 2010 GOP primary and ran unopposed in the general election. His candidacy to win a second term in 2014 also was uncontested.

Born in Indianapolis, Wilson moved to Bartholomew County as a child in 1956, when his father bought a car dealership known as Wilson Olds-Cadillac.

Eight years later, he graduated from Columbus High School and attended Milligan College, a small, Christian school in northeast Tennessee.

Wilson worked in the car business until 1999 and has been a licensed appraiser for 16 years.

When asked about other issues he’s concerned about, Wilson said he will study them over time and address them during the campaign.

Lew Wilson

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 69

Current office held: Bartholomew County assessor

Elected offices sought but not held: None

Education: 1964 graduate of Columbus High School.  Attended Milligan College in Tennessee.

Family: Wife Bettie; four children; nine grandchildren.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.