At the Republican Network candidate forum Thursday evening (Jan 19th), Ms Peden claimed a report obtained from an open records request shows there is a problem with personnel turnover in the Tax Office. She went on to insist this document is the basis for her claim the office is “Broken” and the managers and chief deputies all need to be replaced.
During the forum it was revealed Peden’s report has been disavowed by the County HR Director as inaccurate. The problem with her report is that it includes temporary positions in the numerator (seasonal workers should not be included in conventional turnover statistics) and the dominator has the wrong number of permanent personnel positions identified (39 when it should be 51). Also the report combines many years of personnel transactions and never divides the result to produce an annual average rate. With such flaws in the data any statistics from this report are clearly inaccurate and unusable.
Facts did not matter to Peden as she refused to acknowledge any accomplishments of the Galveston County Tax Office, one of which was being recognized by state and county officials as an exemplary organization (rated in the top 7 out of 254 statewide entities) and she had no comment when it was disclosed that a professional business analyst had conducted a study to determine why personnel were leaving county jobs -- he said the problem was that pay scales were 30% below market and the county needed to increase employee wages to improve retention. Obviously, this study did not agree with any of Peden’s claims about the Tax Office.
As for qualifications, Peden identified her profession on the Republican Primary Candidate application as “bookkeeper” and during the forum admitted all of her experience comes from working at a small family business. (Note – Jackie Peden has never been a CPA, worked in government, or done anything significant for property tax payers.) This is a striking difference to the qualifications of the current Tax Assessor: Cheryl Johnson has worked for many years as a commercial real-estate appraiser, severed as the president of the CCISD School Board and GCAD Board, worked at the Galveston Central Appraisal District as a management analyst (and developed the policy and procedures documents partly still in use today), led the Tax Office for the past 15+ years, and has been invited many times to provide testimony before state legislative committees as a subject matter expert and tax payer advocate.
Facts should matter and any candidate that refuses to tell the truth and/or tries to mislead the public should not be considered for an elected position of trust, like Tax Assessor Collector. Cheryl Johnson was the clear winner of this candidate forum and only responsible choice for Tax Assessor.