John R. Noguez easily wins race for L.A. County assessor

John R. Noguez earned a commanding victory this week in the race to become the next Los Angeles County assessor. Noguez, a deputy assessor who also serves as mayor of Huntington Park, outpaced John Y. Wong, chairman of the assessment appeals board, 60% to 40%.

"I'm very excited," Noguez said Wednesday. "I believe the constituents believe that I will continue the legacy of continued excellence."

Noguez, 45, who has worked in the assessor's office for a quarter of a century, promised to continue reducing assessments of properties that have lost value and reaching out to property taxpayers in other languages, such as Spanish, Chinese, Farsi and Armenian.

He said the department will move forward on a revamp of its computer system, which Wong criticized as being difficult to understand for taxpayers seeking to appeal assessments.

Noguez said he will be sworn in Dec. 6 and will step down as Huntington Park mayor.

Wong, 61, a Monterey Park businessman, said Noguez obtained a key early advantage by buying up positions in mailed slate cards.

"He just tied it all up," Wong said. "I was not able to buy any of the slates."

Noguez raised more than $700,000 and was considered the favorite in the runoff race, having secured the endorsement of former Assessor Rick Auerbach, who retired earlier this year, and four of the five county supervisors. Wong picked up less than $15,000 in contributions and loaned himself more than $21,000.

Wong had sought to tie Noguez to the unfolding salary scandal in the city of Bell, which is just east of Huntington Park. He also criticized Huntington Park for having the sixth-highest property tax rate in the county.

Noguez said he was proud of his work in Huntington Park, where he started as city clerk in 2000 and served on the City Council since 2003. He said during that time, council salaries and travel budgets were reduced and the city's finances were shored up.

Wong also ran unsuccessfully for county assessor in 2000. The nonpartisan office decides the value of property in the county, which helps determine how much the owners pay in property taxes.

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