One of the most heartening outcomes of voting in Tuesday’s primaries was the failure of Jackie Peden’s campaign against Cheryl Johnson in the Republican Party race for the office of county tax assessor/collector.

Peden might be a fine person, might even have made a tolerable tax assessor/collector. But her campaign was intolerable, and GOP voters did well by handing Johnson, the incumbent, a win by more than 20 percentage points.

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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(11) comments

Carlos Ponce

By choosing and approving such campaign tactics Jackie Peden displayed a lack of good judgement.

James Lippert

Well stated Editor Smith. Shame on Peden, the People have spoken.

Phillip Webb

If you want to know why the Peden campaign was so negative and vile....follow the money.

Bailey Jones

That's a question I've had - what is it about the tax assessor-collector position that makes it worth all this effort and drama? What am I missing?

Carlos Ponce

Apparently Bailey missed Cheryl's campaign signs, a pair of scissors cutting the word "TAXES". Get it? Cut taxes?

james gillespie

Great article but I disagree with one point. Evidence uncovered during this campaign strongly indicates Peden would be a terrible tax assessor because: (1) she was unable to keep the required state licensing in order for her small business (it had expiredover 10 years ago). If she was not maintaining proper oversight of a small business, how could she ever manage an operation as complex as the county tax office? (2) She was apparently completely unaware of the state board of accountancy rules requiring the owner and manager of a CPA firm to actually be a CPA (or hold a Bachelors and obtain permission from the state board). She lacked the credentials to claim to be--in any way--in control of their small business. And Peden and Associates? There is only one CPA-Chris. If these types of details and state requirements were ignored for the family business, it would have been a catastrophic mistake to trust her to abide by the many laws governing a county tax office. (3) Being a novice to the Tax Office and Appraisal District, she would be nothing more than a figure head. Do any of us want to go back to the days when this was the norm and the office was a mess? (4) The choices Peden made during the campaign clearly demonstrated she was incapable of making level headed decisions and lacked the ability to change course when presented evidence of the errors of her message. To sum it up, the tax assessor collector position is one of trust and requires a high degree of integrity. At best, Peden lacks the personal and professional qualities and skills necessary for THIS jobGreat article but I disagree with one point. Evidence uncovered during this campaign strongly indicates Peden would be a terrible tax assessor because: (1) she was unable to keep the required state licensing in order for her small business (it had expiredover 10 years ago). If she was not maintaining proper oversight of a small business, how could she ever manage an operation as complex as the county tax office? (2) She was apparently completely unaware of the state board of accountancy rules requiring the owner and manager of a CPA firm to actually be a CPA (or hold a Bachelors and obtain permission from the state board). She lacked the credentials to claim to be--in any way--in control of their small business. And Peden and Associates? There is only one CPA-Chris. If these types of details and state requirements were ignored for the family business, it would have been a catastrophic mistake to trust her to abide by the many laws governing a county tax office. (3) Being a novice to the Tax Office and Appraisal District, she would be nothing more than a figure head. Do any of us want to go back to the days when this was the norm and the office was a mess? (4) The choices Peden made during the campaign clearly demonstrated she was incapable of making level headed decisions and lacked the ability to change course when presented evidence of the errors of her message. To sum it up, the tax assessor collector position is one of trust and requires a high degree of integrity. At best, Peden lacks the personal and professional qualities and skills necessary for THIS job

Robert Waggoner

There is still an underlying problem here that's hard to fathom. How can a person that appears to have little qualifications and very poor judgement get that many votes. Approximate 40% of the votes cast. That shows that many voters either were misinformed about here qualifications and judgement or there were many very displeased voters for her opponents.

Don Johnson

This election cannot be explained in terms of a straight forward contest between an inexperienced political wannabe (Jackie Peden) and a well-known incumbent (Cheryl Johnson). Voters were generally unaware of the proxy battle being waged behind the scenes by county officials using Peden as a ballot lackey in an effort to disgrace or maybe even silence a dedicated taxpayer advocate. For many years Mark Henry (Galveston County Judge) and Ken Clark (Pct 4 County Commissioner) have been focused on covertly removing officials from local government positions that are unwilling to blindly follow their edicts. Of course Cheryl has often angered these folks with her support for disaster reappraisal, limits on government spending with voter approval required, reducing annual appraisal increases to 3% (or less), authorizing senior tax freezes, providing veteran exemptions, etc. In this election Henry and Clark were heavily invested, they gave thousands of dollars to the Peden campaign as well as attempting to bully local officials and county vendors into support of their candidate.

With their money, Peden authorized two well-known political smear merchants to generate literature and build an online presence using negative campaign tactics (an effective technique often used by inferior candidates to scare voters away from more capable and experienced choices). Being an inexperienced candidate with no real issues to talk about, Peden was forced to rely on falsehoods and misrepresentations about Cheryl and the tax office in an attempt to deceive voters with fictitious claims about excessive personnel turnover rates, non-citizens being intentionally maintained on voter rolls, and a phony allegation of corruption by GCAD officials where, according to Peden, they falsely lowered Cheryl’s home value below that of her neighbors. None of this was true.

Fortunately a majority of voters were too smart to fall for Jackie’s ridiculous accusations and Cheryl won re-election by 21+ points – a large margin considering the huge sums of money spent on negative smear. As proxy battles go, Peden’s disappointing performance with less than 40% of the vote was an embarrassing loss for Henry and Clark.

Dan Freeman

Related question: Why did Ray Holbrook support Jackie Peden?

Ted Gillis

Robert, I have been wondering that for years now. It’s the same question I asked when Cheryl Johnson defeated Trish Gibbons. Johnson’s only qualifications was working for the appraisal district (and running with scissors), or when Jim Yarborough was defeated by Mark Henry (who promised the Sherri’s department a tank!) Or when Jack Brooks was defeated by Steve Stockman (who claimed Brooks was crooked for serving so long in Congress). Where is Stockman now?

Qualifications has nothing to do with it. Voters are fickle and are motivated mostly by perception.

I’m aware that all of the above were Democrats, defeated by Republicans, but tell me that all three of those incumbents were not more qualified than their opponent. It was all perception. You say something untruthful enough times, people will soon tend to believe it’s true.

Don Johnson

In 2004 Cheryl Johnson was far from what could be called an inexperienced candidate and anyone trying to revise history to make it sound like she was less qualified than Trish Gibbons (a part-time court reporter that knew nothing about any of the functions of a tax office) is just plain wrong.

Cheryl is likely the most qualified candidate to ever run for Galveston County Tax Assessor. In prior years (before running for the school board in 1994) she was a successful real-estate agent and later became an accomplished real-estate appraiser. That gave her an in-depth understanding of how both residential and commercial properties are valued. It also lead her to run for the CCISD School Board where she recognized property values were sufficient to support a 10% optional homestead exemption (which was successfully passed once she was on the board). Additionally, she led an effort to reduce a costly bond that had been rejected by voters. She formed a committee with local elected officials and developed a plan that provided more student capacity than the original bond proposal, established equity standards for all schools, and introduced a higher level of technology for the classroom and administrative processes. The reformed bond was about half the cost (saving taxpayers millions of dollars). With such accomplishments Cheryl was quickly promoted to the position of CCISD Board President. During her tenure, Cheryl was honored to work with Governors and members of the Texas legislature to improve school funding policies and education requirements for school districts across the state. (The experience she gained working with elected officials in Austin was far beyond what any tax assessor collectors in Galveston County had ever been able to claim.) When she moved to Friendswood she had to leave her board position and that was when Ken Wright (GCAD Chief Appraiser) recognized the opportunity to hire her at the county appraisal district to help implement many of the projects he had long wanted to undertake. Among the projects Cheryl was responsible for was the establishment of a policies and procedures manual for GCAD – while I’m sure some modifications have been made in the years since, this manual is still the authoritative guide being used by staff members at the appraisal district today.

Clearly Cheryl is the most capable leader to ever run for Tax Assessor in Galveston County. Not only was she a qualified real-estate appraiser, she had extensive government experience, leadership experience, and was acknowledged as a state expert on Texas property taxes. Above and beyond her prior experience, Cheryl had also proven herself to be a dedicated taxpayer advocate for the 10 year period before she ever signed up to run for Galveston County Tax Assessor Collector.

To suggest Cheryl’s election in 2004 is attributed to fickle voters and that her qualifications had nothing to do with it - that’s just a ridiculous lie being spun by someone attempting to rewrite history.

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