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Best, Stepro seek GOP nod for assessor

The Republican ballots for the May 8 Primary Election will include two candidates for Harrison County assessor.
Lorena A. (Rena) Stepro, the incumbent, is being challenged by Barbara Birkla Best. However, this will be the first time Stepro has run as a Republican. She won prior elections as a Democrat but switched parties last year.
Currently, there is no Democrat candidate for the assessor position. However, the party has until noon June 30 to select a candidate to run in the Nov. 6 General Election.
Below are the Republican candidates’ responses to a questionnaire from this newspaper.
Name and residency: Barbara Birkla Best, Corydon
Family: Empty nest, three children, six grandchildren
Education: Lanesville/Floyd Central High, IUS continued studies
Occupation: County government
Political experience: Republican; two-term, term-limited Harrison County recorder 2009-2016
Contact information for voters: [email protected]; 812-738-9811
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? I am eager and blessed for the opportunity to continue to work in the county I love and to utilize my skills and be voted your next county assessor. Personal accountability in my work ethics has furthered my success, and giving back to the community through conservative leadership is my focus and passion. Having received the 2017 Harrison County Republican Chairman’s Award in recognition of years of service and dedication to the party and the citizens of Harrison County made me realize my work was not done.
What qualifies you for the office (in 100 words or less)? Proven results in my two terms as county recorder. Cut budget General Fund 50+%. Made data easily accessible; gave the people more of what they wanted. Having had 17 years of experience as a successful full-time real estate broker in Harrison County enables me to determine cost approach, sales comparison, market value and neighborhood factor. Book or webinar resources are good; going out to the home/property and viewing and doing the assessments on site allows for more accuracy. Fewer tax appeals.
Why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (in 100 words or less)? “I will be a Strong Voice for the People” and serve the taxpayers in a professional, courteous and helpful manner using uniform standards so that no one is burdened with paying more than their fair share of taxes, and keep the public informed of state regulations. The Assessor’s office is not term limited. I believe in term limits. Fourteen years is too long for one person to hold one particular office. Change allows for public transparency.
Do you believe you could make the assessor’s office operate more efficiently? If so, how (in 150 words or less)? It is my goal to make all public information readily available in an easy-to-use and helpful format. The assessor’s site will be designed to be user friendly and encourage everyone to review their assessment information online. The site will use the latest field-search technology. The website will save all parties time and money by being able to view Property Record Cards. Your support and vote is important to me. I hope I have earned your trust and vote. Thank you for your consideration.
Name and residency: Lorena (Rena) Stepro, Corydon
Family: Married to husband Nelson for 35 years; have two sons, Coy and Taylor
Education: Graduate, Corydon Central High School; Level I, II & III certified assessor-appraiser
Occupation: Currently serving as Harrison County assessor
Political experience: Hired into the County Treasurer’s Office by Republican Paul Saulman in 1991, serving 8 years as his first deputy; served as county treasurer, now currently as county assessor
Contact information for voters: 812-267-0258, [email protected]
Why are you seeking the office (in 100 words or less)? I love my job. I’ve had the honor of serving the people of Harrison County for many years in the Treasurer’s and Assessor’s offices, and I believe that I have made a positive impact for our county in doing so. I would like to continue to serve and to make a difference. It is important that everyone that comes into the Assessor’s Office be treated with courtesy, respect and professionalism. Their issues should be addressed and their problems solved, fairly and transparently under the law. I think I have done this for our county during my tenure.
What qualifies you for the office (in 100 words or less)? I have served in both the Assessor and Treasurer offices and have extensive experience with the assessing process. State law requires the county assessor to be a Level III Certified Assessor-Appraiser, and I am the only person in the county to hold this certification. When it is done fairly and properly, assessing is a complex process that requires years of experience. If done improperly or without the necessary certifications and experience, it can negatively impact every property owner in the entire county. It is critical that the assessor work well with the auditor, treasurer and rest of county government.
Why should someone vote for you rather than your opponent (n 100 words or less)? Proper and accurate assessing of property requires significant training and years of experience. The state recognized this when it set the certification requirements for the office of assessor. I am the only person in the county to hold the state-required Level III Assessor-Appraiser certification. It is also important that the assessor work well with other offices without issue or personal disagreement. County government works best for the people when officeholders work together. I’ve always been able to do this, regardless of the politics of the officeholder or the property owner.
Do you believe you could make the assessor’s office operate more efficiently, if so how (in 150 words or less)? Since taking office, I’ve constantly worked to use new technology and to make the office more efficient. I will continue to do so if re-elected. In recent years, assessing has changed, by state law, from “assessed value” to “fair-market value,” and my office made this transition. I adopted new computer systems that are user friendly and transparent. You can now go on the county website and see the value and tax bill of every piece of property in the entire county. My office recently adopted a pictometry system to make the assessment process more efficient and accurate. Technology will continue to change, and the assessor’s office must always be willing to adapt to use it, in order to get the most efficient office possible for the citizens of our county.