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Santa Barbara County’s longtime clerk-recorder-assessor and registrar of voters is being challenged for his job by a county appraiser who said he’s running for the office as an independent voter.

Joseph Holland of Goleta, who has held the office for more than 15 years, will face Nigerian native Donald “Baz” Ofiaeli of Solvang in the June 6 primary.

Donald ‘Baz’ Ofiaeli

Born in Nigeria, Donald “Baz” Ofiaeli has lived in Santa Barbara County the majority of his life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at UC Santa Barbara and later obtained a master’s degree in business administration.

He has worked for the county as an appraiser in the Business and Special Property Division of the Clerk-Recorder-Assessor’s Office for 16 years and said he is running for the office as an independent registered voter.

Ofiaeli said in his current capacity, he has provided accurate, efficient and dedicated customer service to county residents and, if elected, will expand the service.

His goals include updating the homeowners' property tax exemption to make it relevant to current home prices, use local vendors to provide products and services that will benefit the area’s economy and increase voter registration, especially among seniors by visiting senior living complexes and mobile home parks.

He said he also plans to ensure that all property tax assessments are fair, accurate and timely so the county has the funding needed for programs and services and to increase customer service, efficiency, transparency and accessibility to residents in all parts of the county, which includes reopening the Lompoc branch office.

Joseph Holland

Incumbent Joseph Holland was first elected county clerk-recorder-assessor and registrar of voters in March 2002 after serving as the Business Division manager for about four years.

A Santa Barbara County resident since 1978, Holland earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics and a master’s degree in economics, both from UC Santa Barbara.

He also graduated from the UCLA Executive Program at the Anderson School of Business, is a licensed real estate broker, a certified public finance officer, an appraiser for property tax purposes and an advanced appraiser for property tax purposes.

He started with the county in 1984 when he became a real estate appraiser in the Clerk-Recorder-Assessor’s Office, then served as an assessment supervisor for the office before taking the job of capital projects financing manager for the County Administrative Office.

Holland said the mission of the County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor’s Office is to help the county’s citizens at significant times throughout their lives — when they purchase a new home, open a business or want to get married in a civil ceremony.

His goal is to honor the public trust by assuring open and honest elections, maintaining and preserving property and vital records, setting fair and impartial property values for tax purposes and providing courteous and professional services at a reasonable cost.

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County Reporter/Associate Editor

Lee Central Coast Newspapers associate editor Mike Hodgson covers Santa Barbara County government and events and issues in Santa Ynez Valley. Follow him on Twitter @MHodgsonSYVNews.