Five candidates have entered the race for Pettis County Assessor in the Aug. 2 primary election, including Susan Young Yelton.
The other four candidates include Christopher C. Woolery, of Sedalia, Karen Hill, of Smithton, Angie Luebbering, of Sedalia, and Mark A. Thomas, of Sedalia, and with all five being Republican, the race will be decided during the primary.
Yelton, a lifelong resident of Pettis County, is a certified general real estate appraiser, has a BSBA in accounting and owns and operates her own appraisal firm. She has also been an accounting supervisor for local manufacturing companies and worked in the City of Sedalia Finance Department. As a certified appraiser, she goes through a recertifiation process every two years requiring 28 hours of continuing education.
She said she ran for office because she was “encouraged by some individuals in the community there was a need for a knowledgeable, certified individual to lead the assessor’s office.”
When it comes to top issues facing the county in relation to the assessor, Yelton said she thinks it is a “very well-run office” and is “very impressed with how our Pettis County Assessor’s office has stayed ahead of the times and I’d like to continue with that.”
She offered a few areas where she sees room for improvement.
“I started my candidacy with the idea that communication regarding the assessment process needs to be communicated more effectively with our citizens so they are aware of their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers and property owners and so forth,” Yelton said. “I know (Assessor) Karissa (Logan) has gone and made that information available online accessible and that was a great improvement. I believe educating our public is the best way to have them maybe not as frustrated with things and would hope that I could implement a way that would get more people reached, either something as simple as mailing out the process with their tax forms that go out. I have heard an expressed need for that information.”
She added that the assessor’s staff is well trained, but she would like to improve on that training to make the office more efficient.
Yelton noted that her appraiser’s certification could help keep the assessor’s office within its budget.
“It’s imperative that people understand with my certification that I am able to possibly bring something to the county and reduce the cost of fees and services we are now paying for appraisal services and would utilize my certification in any way possible to benefit the citizens of Pettis County,” she explained. “We are currently spending thousands and thousands of dollars on appraisal services and fees and I believe some of those could be eliminated with someone who is certified.”
Yelton said she sees the main responsibility of the assessor as providing fair and accurate assessments.
“Those assessments are what taxing jurisdictions set their budgets and levies on, so for those to be accurate from the get-go, it’s imperative,” she said. “I feel strongly I’m the only candidate that has the depth and experience necessary to provide that.”
Since the new assessor will not take office until Sept. 1, 2017, Yelton said her main goal over the next year wold be to learn as much as possible from Logan so she “can hit the ground running on Sept. 1.”
“In taking office, if elected, the points that I stressed regarding education, regarding budget cuts and that communication would be what I would start immediately on,” she said. “Until you get in the office and see what kind of issues they are facing, it’s hard to know and I would take that approach as well, learn what our hot spots are and how to address them.”
As far as challenges, Yelton said she feels she is capable of taking over the office if elected, but would approach the challenges of dealing with day-to-day functions and dealing with the public with common sense and respect.
“Certainly everything I just mentioned — my certification, my knowledge, my expertise in the field,” she said of why citizens should vote for her.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.