Local Politics

Thursday, May 08 2014 04:26 PM

Election notebook: Johnson lays out goals if elected assessor

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Candidate Russell Johnson meets with supporters on May 3 to pass out campaign materials as they help him walk precincts to support his campaign for Assessor-Recorder.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Kern County assessor-recorder candidate Russell Johnson held a press conference Thursday to announce a list of plans he would implement if elected to office.

His goal, he said, would be to "Put taxpayers first, the county second" as the office appraises taxpayer property in Kern County and communicates about its work to the public.

Johnson said he wants to change the culture of the office, which he said is not aimed at providing good customer service to the taxpayer.

He would, he said:

* Create a taxpayer advocate job.

* Hire a petroleum engineer to help with oil and gas appraisals.

* Combine customer service efforts with other county departments like the Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector's office.

* Improve technology and eliminate paper records.

* Hold quarterly information meetings and regular townhalls with taxpayers.

* Comply with state required audits.

Johnson said the appraisal work of the office is guided by state rules and fair and accurate appraisals of property will be developed for all property. Advocating for taxpayers also means, he said, explaining the assessment process to the people who will pay the bill.

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