Appraiser Roy Wright has filed candidacy papers to run for Jackson County assessor in May, and he is vowing to act as a firewall between property owners and government agencies seeking tax dollars.

Appraiser Roy Wright has filed candidacy papers to run for Jackson County assessor in May, and he is vowing to act as a firewall between property owners and government agencies seeking tax dollars.

"Nobody has ever stated or realized that this job should protect the public from excessive taxation," said the 71-year-old Ashland resident.

Wright is the only candidate to file papers so far with the Jackson County clerk in the nonpartisan assessor's race.

Joshua Gibson, who was appointed assessor by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, said he will file within the next two weeks. He has been planning a run for the assessor position for several years, he said.

Gibson, a 33-year-old Medford resident, said, "Mr. Wright is absolutely the wrong person for this position."

He said Wright isn't familiar with the internal workings of the department. Cross-training of employees over the past four years has given them an overall vision of the property-tax system in the county, he said.

In December, Wright said it wasn't likely he would run for assessor, saying he would have to "watch his back" because Jackson County officials would generally work against him.

Wright said he came to the realization recently that he needed to jump into the race.

"If I don't run, and there's a problem, I'm just running away from it," he said.

Wright ran against former Assessor Dan Ross in the 2008 election.

Ross resigned in September 2011 after citing a hostile work environment.

Wright said the assessor's job is to represent property owners, not the administration of Jackson County.

"I want to get rid of the attitude that the job is to fill coffers," he said. "They see your home as an ATM machine."

Wright said he won a tax appeal on the value of a condo he owns in Medford. He said other condos in the complex are similar and should have received new values, as well.

"The only time they (the assessor's office) correct something is when you hold a gun to their heads," Wright said.

Gibson said he agreed with Wright that the assessor is not in the position to protect the tax revenues of any entity.

"I believe in a fair tax assessment on every property," he said.

He said that by law the assessor can't reduce the values on other condos around Wright's property.

But next year, Gibson said, he plans to change the other condos to reflect the new values.

"If you're going to change one, then you need to change another," he said. "You need to change the entire complex."

Gibson said the assessor's office will undergo similar reviews of other properties throughout the county this year as a result of appeals, including subdivisions that are still bare land.

"I will guarantee that you have fair and accurate appraisals," Gibson said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email dmann@mailtribune.com.