Ryan Boyd: At the intersection of data and rabbits

Paulina Pineda//September 24, 2018

Ryan Boyd: At the intersection of data and rabbits

Paulina Pineda//September 24, 2018


Ryan Boyd’s path to politics wasn’t quite a straight line.

Boyd, who graduated from Arizona State University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in public service and public policy, started off as a parks and recreation management major. Think Leslie Knope, the main character in the TV show “Parks and Recreation,” he said. But after a year in the program, Boyd said he realized that it was intended more for students who wanted to become park rangers rather than run local recreation programs and that wasn’t something he was cut out for.

“I’m not exactly the most outdoorsy type. I like modern conveniences,” he said.

So Boyd switched majors and joined ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions’ public policy program – a better fit for the self-described data and public records nerd.

His experiences in the public policy program and in student government landed him an internship at the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office, where he worked as a legislative liaison. And now, at just 23 years old and fresh out of college, Boyd lobbies on behalf of the county agency at the state Capitol and also serves as the assessor’s public information officer, a tough job for someone who works at an agency most people don’t quite understand.

Cap Times Q&AWhat exactly does the Assessor’s Office do?

There’s such a lack of knowledge about what the heck we actually do. We are the crossroads of several different areas of data that we’re not really responsible for. And we try to meld all that information together into a massive data list that shows all of the property in Maricopa County and what it’s worth. … And our goal here is to make sure that the values of all the properties . . . are fairly valued, because the idea is if they’re all fairly valued, then the burden of a property tax rate is fairly distributed by value.

Have there been any bills that you’ve lobbied for that have been a tough sell at the Legislature?

This is basically the assessor’s bill of the decade at this point. We have tried and failed now twice to pull the value system into a one-year system. So what I mean by that is right now the values that are on the tax bill going out as we speak, those values were set a full year behind. So if you own a house here, you’ll get a notice of value in the mail and basically it’ll say here’s the value of your home. But that value isn’t the value that is used for this tax year. So the assessor has been pushing before my time here and when I was an intern this massive bill that would change the dates and condense that period down into a single year. That’s how personal property is valued, not how the real property, which is the stuff in the ground essentially, is valued. The idea was to make it simpler for taxpayers because it can get confusing. And so that’s an interesting one because there are varying opinions, including from our friends at ATRA (Arizona Tax Research Association), who do not like this one.

You are very active on Twitter, tweeting about everything from politics to sports. You have more than 20,300 tweets and 800 followers. How did you develop your Twitter personality?

It’s part of my job but I enjoy it as well. Sometimes I think should I be more careful? Like, I started originally with lower concern about what I put out there, but then I actually had reporters following me and I was like, oh no, this is bad. But it’s fun. I’ll tell you why I love Twitter so much – Twitter is great because if you fail miserably, no one’s going to see it because it’s going to be gone in like five minutes. Done. It’s pretty perfect. Unless you do something that you fail so miserably that people retweet it thousands of times. But most of what I tweet, no one’s going to see it. And it’s not like on Facebook or Twitter where there’s this pressure to get likes or anything. And the general mood of Twitter is far more suited to my sarcastic dry humor, to be honest.

Any plans to run for office?

So my view on politics is that you do it to get certain things done. I don’t like the perennial candidates who are just in it to run because I’ve always been in it. When it comes to politics, I would really like to hold out for like when there’s an opportunity that matches my interests and that I actually feel like I can represent the people.

Your Twitter bio says “Rabbits before country before party.” I gotta ask, how did the obsession with rabbits start?

First off, my name starts with ‘R’ and their name starts with an ‘R,’ so just the simplicity of that. As a small child, I really wasn’t creative as a child, so when we’d go around and teachers would ask us to think of an animal or something cool that starts with the first letter of your name I was like ‘R’ is such a terrible letter so I went with rabbits. But besides that, I mean, they’re fun little animals. They have such nice little simple lives. They’re cute and cuddly and they’re also not as needy, so I don’t feel as bad when I’m playing around with them. Like dogs are great but, oh man, they are so high energy and I’m like I cannot keep up with you dude, help me out. And then other things like Bugs Bunny. Rabbits are just a cultural icon.

Do you have one?

I had one with the family a few years ago but unfortunately poor little Peter passed away. And now I’m just kind of holding off because I live in downtown Phoenix and I don’t feel like subjecting a rabbit to being in an apartment all day. One day.

What’s your favorite kind of rabbit?

Oh man, that’s like asking which child I like most. But if we are picking favorite, desert cottontail. They are so cute. And I saw two right next to the City Council chambers. And they hop all around the railroad tracks and venture into downtown.