ZANGERLE, JOHN A. (12 Apr. 1866-1 Oct. 1956), Cuyahoga County auditor (1913-51) and the last surviving public official of the TOM L. JOHNSON era, was born in Cleveland to Adam and Maria Reisterer Zangerle, graduated from West High School in 1884, read law, and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1890 before studying economics at the University of Berlin. Zangerle practiced law with the firm of Zangerle, Higley & Maurer, while also consolidating several breweries into Cleveland & Sandusky Brewing Co. He was elected to the Cleveland School Board in 1890 and to the Quadrennial Board of Assessors in 1910. In 1912 Zangerle first won election as county auditor. Never aspiring a higher office, Zangerle became so strong politically that Republicans often made only token efforts to defeat him.
One of Johnson's Progressive reforms was to the system of property taxation, thought to lack transparency and fairness. Drawing upon the model “Somers System of Realty Valuation” of W. A. Somers, of St. Paul, MN, a city commission was set up to apply the Somers method to Cleveland’s tax assessments. Zangerle was the secretary of that commission, which drawing upon experts in real estate values and conducting public meetings in a big tent, issued its report in 1910. It laid out in detail the process for determining its front foot assessments for every part of the city and a map detailing the resulting block-by-block assessments. When Zangerle became County Auditor, he implemented the Somers System countywide, issuing maps periodically until 1946-47. In the 1930s, he replaced antiquated equipment in the tax division with efficient mechanical equipment and a new accounting and records system. Zangerle was not afraid to confront prominent individuals or corporations on assessments, securing additional revenues from STANDARD OIL CO., REPUBLIC STEEL,, Society for Savings, and Sears. He championed a more equitable method of taxation based solely on land values and executed by the state rather than the 88 individual county auditors. From 1951 until his death, Zangerle returned to practicing law. Zangerle married Blanche Norton in 1912 and had 3 children, Willis, Hildegarde, and Jane Elisabeth.