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County assessor resigns position effective Dec. 31

Jackson County Assessor Josh Gibson submitted a letter of resignation effective Dec. 31 but has stopped showing up for work regularly for more than a month, according to Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan.

Gibson submitted his resignation letter several months ago, Jordan said.

"The assessor hasn't been here the last 1½ months — or has been here very little," Jordan told the Jackson County Board of Commissioners during a Tuesday work session.

Jordan and commissioners did not discuss the reason for Gibson's resignation during the work session. The Mail Tribune has submitted a public records request for a copy of Gibson's resignation letter.

With Gibson absent from work, Commissioners Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts agreed Tuesday to have Jackson County Chief Deputy Assessor Jo Wright carry out the duties of the assessor at least until the May election, when voters will choose an assessor.

If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, that person could take office early, rather than taking office in January 2016, Jordan said.

If a candidate does not win a majority of votes in May, the contest will continue to the November election.

Gibson's absence has set off a scramble for his seat.

Four people already have filed documents to run for the assessor position. They are Jackson County Assessor's Office Lead Appraiser David Arrasmith, Jackson County Project/Program Coordinator Ruth Staten, Jackson County Lead Appraiser Angela Stuhr and Jackson County Property Appraiser Michael Wright, according to the Jackson County Elections Office.

Jo Wright already has been carrying out the assessor's duties in Gibson's absence. She is not planning to run for the position, Jordan said.

Dyer and Roberts said Jo Wright is fully capable of carrying out the duties and they have confidence in her.

Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said he is uncomfortable having a Jackson County staff member doing the job of an elected official.

"It's an office that's very dear to people's hearts since it involves the assessment of people's property," Breidenthal said. "I'm nervous not having an elected official in that position."

Among other tasks, the assessor's office establishes estimates of the fair market value of property for tax purposes, maintains records and maps, verifies sales in the county and prepares and levies taxes.

The assessor's salary has been bumped up from $97,968 to $104,666 due to increases approved by the Jackson County Budget Committee in April.

The Mail Tribune has submitted public records requests about Gibson's salary and whether he has been collecting his full salary during the time he has been missing work.

Gibson was not at work Tuesday to answer questions.

Under state law, the assessor is required to work only one day per year, Jordan said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Gibson in 2012