Blake Gerard works for Socorro County in the Assessor’s office in a jack-of-all-trades role.
What is it that you do here at the Assessor’s Office?
Whatever they ask me to do. Mostly I answer questions from citizens coming in with concerns. Directing as well as deferring questions to the people that can answer them. I was hired on initially as an appraiser.
How long have you been working here?
Seven years. I found out there was an opening and Julie (Griego) was kind enough to offer me the position. She’s the boss and was the one that got me in here.
What does your typical schedule consist of?
We’re still working on mass appraisals. This is a large county and we are always evaluating each parcel day-to-day. Always trying to improve things. Whether it is vacant land or agricultural land we try to evaluate properties for tax purposes.
Do you personally visit privately owned citizens’ land?
I did years ago. But we still have people going out to assess all the time around the county. I don’t go out in the field much anymore.
What do citizens coming into the office speak with you and your colleagues about?
Roughly 15-20 people come in daily. The big thing is information. Our office can locate parcels as well as give them places where land is located. We also give citizens an idea of how their land is going to be appraised.
Who makes appraisal decisions?
Every citizen does the paperwork. It is in accordance to the rules and the law. Some citizens get certain exemptions, veterans to name an example. The rules in our office don’t often change.
Were you born and raised in Socorro?
Yes. I lived in El Paso, Texas, for a year as well as in Portales. I went to school in Portales and my son Daniel was building houses in El Paso so I went down there to help out. My son still works real estate in El Paso and also runs a food truck called Fat Dan’s.
After school, what did you do?
I never got a degree. After college, I ran my father’s locally owned Shirley’s Drive-In for 10 years. From there I worked at the radio station for two years under Mike Olguin. From there I worked at Socorro Office Supply and ended up buying it. I ran that for 23 years. And now I’m here.
Which one of those jobs did you enjoy most?
At the time, doing food service and the drive-in at Shirley’s was a blast while it lasted. But it was an awful lot of work too. Seven days a week and more than 12 hours a day sometimes. But I got to have a lot of fun while also meeting a ton of young people and help some of them get started.
Do you have any children?
I do, four with my wife Sonja. Jamie is a nuclear engineer currently working at Los Alamos. Amanda coordinates food service events for UNM. Sam is currently a reserve Air Force officer working out of White Sands Missile Range with his reserve duty going through Phoenix. Danny is an entrepreneur with a real-estate business as well as his food truck.
What is your favorite movie?
“Jeremiah Johnson.” I’ve always been a free spirit and the way Robert Redford portrayed a life that is tough and real was great to me. You have the bad and the good. That’s reality.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Alaska. My dad worked up there a long time and I always heard a lot of good things about it. Seems like it would be an interesting place.
If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
I don’t think I’d handle it very well. I would make sure to set up my kids and grandchildren. Be as altruistic with the money as possible.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Go back to school rather than take over the drive-in. While working there was an education itself, I would like to see both paths and find out which one worked out best.
If you could change one thing about Socorro County, what would it be?
We need a better industrial base that allows people and businesses to come and develop here. I’ve been in Socorro so long that I’ve seen the evolution of this community go up and then go back down. I would like to see Tech more involved, but Socorro can be a rough community. I would love to see the positive things going on here promoted more.