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FARMINGTON — San Juan County's assessor is leaving his job by the end of the month for a new position in the New Mexico State Land Office.

Clyde Ward, who has worked in the county assessor's office since 2003, said he's moving to Santa Fe to advance his political career. Sept. 25 will be his last day here, and he will being his new job three days later.

"I love this county," he said. "The training and mentorship that I received here is priceless," but he believes can improve this county — and New Mexico's 32 others — by working for the state. "We want our state to be better," he said.

Chief Deputy Assessor Jimmy Voita will take Ward's place until the County Commission appoints a new assessor, County Attorney Doug Echols said. The position will be up for grabs in the 2016 primary and general elections, Echols said.

Ward recommended that Voita take his place during a commission meeting Tuesday evening in which he announced his plans.

As the assistant commissioner for commercial resources in the state land office, Ward will earn $90,000 a year, he said. He made more than $75,000 annually in San Juan County, said Jessica Howard, human resource information system specialist.

County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said Ward's departure is a big loss for the county.

"Clyde has been revered as being probably the sharpest assessor anywhere in the state," Carpenter said.

Ward thought critically about property taxes and their role in government, Carpenter said. He often considered changes the state needed to make, and he spent a lot of time in Santa Fe discussing them, Carpenter said. He was also the incoming president for the New Mexico Association of Counties, but he won't be any longer because he won't be working for a county, Carpenter said.

"No question about it," he said. "The state is getting a good one."

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.

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