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Monday, Apr 28 2014 04:29 PM

Endorsements for assessor begin to fly

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    Kern County assessor candidate Jon Lifquist, left, discusses his qualifications for the position with Californian Executive Editor Robert Price, center, and government reporter James Burger on "First Look with Scott Cox" on March 31, 2014.

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    Kern County assessor candidate Russell Johnson, left, discusses his qualifications for the position with Californian Executive Editor Robert Price, center, and government reporter James Burger on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Republican candidate Romeo Agbalog is running for State Assembly.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

Retiring Kern County Assessor Jim Fitch made his endorsement Monday in the three-way race to succeed him, picking Chief Appraiser Jon Lifquist, a 25-year employee of his office.

"Jon Lifquist is part of the management team that has created one of the most modern Assessor-Recorder Offices in the state, through system development and automation. ... Mr. Lifquist has had an outstanding career within the Assessor-Recorder's Office. He will make an outstanding Assessor-Recorder," Fitch said in a statement, in a seeming rebuke to fellow candidates Russell Johnson and Lupe Esquivias, who have said the office is in sore need of modernization.

Esquivias is a seven-year appraiser for the Assessor-Recorder.

Johnson, a Bakersfield City Council member who represents the southern Ward 7, announced his own high-profile endorsement Monday.

The councilman, who has branded himself the only "candidate willing to challenge the status quo" and focus the office on serving taxpayers, added Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, chair of the Board of Supervisors, to his list of supporters.

"The Assessor's office is in need of new leadership. With the challenges facing county government we need to ensure the Assessor's office is focused on serving the public and providing fair and accurate assessments. I am supporting Russell Johnson because he has a proven record of putting the public first, making tough decisions and ensuring that our community has the resources necessary to serve us all," Perez is quoted as saying in a press release from Johnson's office.

 

Valadao endorses for 32nd Assembly

Congressman David Valadao, R-Hanford, endorsed 32nd Assembly District hopeful Romeo Agbalog, in a statement issued Monday by Agbalog's office.

"Romeo Agbalog is the clear choice to fight for Central Valley values in Sacramento," Valadao said. "I am impressed with his willingness to work across party lines to bring water to our valley, stop the high-speed rail project, and reduce burdensome taxes and regulations."

Agbalog, a staffer for state Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, faces competition in the race from incumbent Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and fellow Republican Pedro Rios.

Rios lost to Salas in 2012. New state primary rules send only the top two vote-getters to the general election, and in a Democrat-heavy district Salas is favored to be one of the two.

In a statement, Agbalog said he was humbled by the endorsement.

"Working together, we will ensure that Central Valley agriculture is well represented in both Washington and Sacramento," Agbalog said.

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