As many of you have already deduced, due to my name conspicuously not appearing on the list of candidates for the June election, I will not be running for re-election in June and will be retiring from the county effective January 2019.
In early 2014, long-time Assessor Ken Bunch let me know that he was not seeking re-election. As chief appraiser and an 18-year assessor’s office appraiser, I was the most qualified person for the job. After much deliberation, I reluctantly agreed to run. I was reluctant, not because I didn’t feel I was up to the job, but because running would require me to move away from my family who live in Chester. I moved to Lassen County in January 2014 and, contrary to the DA’s allegations, have lived here ever since. I first lived in Clear Creek and then moved to Susanville in March 2017. I typically see my family on weekends and on certain special occasions.
I was appointed assessor by the board of supervisors in November 2014 and the fun began right away. During my first week on the job, I practically got in a fistfight with a taxpayer who accused me of not following the tax laws that I had “made up.” According to him, I smirked when he accused me of that and he didn’t take it well. The following Tuesday, I, along with the county clerk, was invited to the board of supervisors meeting to answer questions about assessment appeals. As it turned out, this invitation was disingenuous and led to a public interrogation of me with regard to the “transfer” of the town of Herlong from the county to local investors, including one individual who spent the better part of my first two years in office trying to get me out. This would be the same individual who personally told me he was going to get me recalled. This threat was clear retaliation toward me because he didn’t (and still doesn’t) feel that he should be treated the same as everyone else and assessed at market value. To this day, I’m still not sure why he chose to personally go after me when I was neither the assessor at the time nor was I the appraiser on the properties in question. This individual also thought it prudent to file complaints with the Grand Jury and with the DA. For the record, all of those attempts failed.
During my tenure, I have lost five key employees (more than 140 years’ of experience) to retirement including one 43-year employee and one 36-year employee. Currently, the most tenured full time employee in my office has been here six years. Last year, I had five probationary employees on staff, which means they’ve had their position for less than one year. I am very proud of my staff for stepping up and getting us through the growing pains and struggles while ensuring that we completed our mandated duty of fairly and equitably assessing properties in a timely fashion.
With all that said, I am not leaving because of harassment or staff turnover, I am leaving because I want to move back to Chester with my family. I will work diligently to train my replacement to the best of my ability and will continue to help him/her after I leave just as Ken Bunch has helped me.
I will certainly miss the day-to-day trials and tribulations that come with this job and will miss working with the great people in my office and Lassen County employees in general.
In closing, I would also like to take the opportunity to encourage you to vote for Nick Ceaglio as my successor. Nick has the people skills, integrity and intelligence to run the office in a way that the taxpayers of Lassen County deserve.