GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - There's a new person in charge of getting Goochland County's financial house back in order. Tuesday was Pam Johnson's first full day on the job, three months after the former treasurer was charged with embezzlement.
Take a look around the Treasurer's Office and you won't see any signs leftover from its former leader Brenda Grubbs. Her picture isn't on display next to other former treasurers. Now there's a new woman in charge in the county's money. Johnson is hitting the ground running during her first full day as the interim treasurer.
"We've been talking about the things we need to do to improve this," Johnson said. "We only have one way to go, and that's up."
The Treasurer's Office hit rock bottom when Grubbs was arrested and charged with embezzlement last February. Even before her arrest, local leaders complained the office was poorly run and inefficient.
Johnson says she decided the taxpayers deserved better than what they were getting.
"I just felt bad for them," she said. "I thought, 'I have the skills to be able to fix this and to make this a good county where people won't have to suffer this kind of embarrassment from their officials."
Johnson does have a warning - getting the office back on track won't happen overnight.
"There are people that probably think some kind of magic is going to happen," she said. "That I'll walk in the door and everything will be just wonderful and it doesn't work that way. It's going to take some time."
Johnson says she's usually not a risk-taker, but is taking a big one with this position. She left her old job as an accountant for a state agency to take over as treasurer for the next few months.
She could be out of a job if she isn't elected this fall. She'll run as a Republican, despite the advice of friends to run as an independent.
"I'm not going to have my coffee in the morning as a Republican and walk out the door and pretend to be an independent," Johnson said. "We've had difficulty with honesty in this office, and to me, that'd be telling a lie about who I am."
Johnson was appointed by a judge. Johnson will have 'interim' attached to her title until at least after the November elections.
State auditors are still trying to figure out exactly how much money was lost during Grubbs' tenure.
Grubbs will be back in court to face her embezzlement charges next month.