Commissioner of Revenue candidates answer questions at forum

Published 12:08 am Friday, October 6, 2023

This year, we have two candidates running to be Commissioner of the Revenue in Prince Edward County. There’s the incumbent, Barbara Goldman and her challenger, Crystal Hensley. Both women answered questions and explained their position on things at the NAACP’s community forum. That was held on Monday, Sept. 18 at the Robert Russa Moton Museum in Farmville. 

I was the moderator for the night and over the span of one and a half hours, we covered three questions each for the different candidate groups who showed up.

Q: What unique strengths do you bring to the position? 

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Goldman: The strengths that I bring are just me being myself. I am a person that if I do not understand something, I’m going to be the first to tell you I don’t understand. I’m not going to make promises that I can’t keep. I learned that as an officer at the jail. To promise you something and then do not come through with it only creates a trust issue. The first thing I want to find out is what has brought you into my office? What is the problem? If I can solve it, I am very happy about it. If not, I want you to know I have colleagues I can fall back on. I have a keen sense of interpretation. I have a keen sense of discernment, so I have no problem researching something. I have a staff I depend on and rely on. 

Hensley: If elected, the strengths I would bring are first, my customer service skills. Every job that I’ve worked has had customer service bred in it. I love it, I love talking to the people, helping people. It’s what I love to do. I would love to bring timely service for billing. I would definitely hear all citizens’ concerns and have more efficiency in our office. 

Q: What is a current project you’d like to expand on or one you’d like to bring? 

Goldman: As I’ve learned in my last four years, I can plan anything I want, but on a day to day basis, things change. I came into the office fresh and new and there was the beginning process of reassessment of real estate, which is a monster on its own. To plan anything for January now, just doesn’t make any sense, because they are already asking where are these things to get them out into the field. What I would love to see is to have a staff that is stable. I’ve had a lot of turnarounds, because they’ve left for more money and Prince Edward couldn’t afford to do that. I would love to see the staff that I have now, well trained, continue in that career development and training. I get excited when we’re all of one accord, when we’re all doing what we need to do. I don’t have any plans now that I would like to share but I do see good things down the line. 

Hensley: What I would like to do is bring some new technologies to the commissioner of revenue’s office. Currently, Prince Edward County uses Bright, it’s the system they use during reassessment. That system is capable of doing many, many things. Like weekly downloads, you can do that instead of getting a yearly download. Electronic filing, I would love to see that. It would lessen the cost for the county, by not having to send out the personal property forms. You can do something such as file by exception. I would love to see some stuff implemented technology wise in the county that would make the office run more efficiently, it would make things better for the taxpayers and that’s what I want to see happen if I were elected. 

Q: What are some things you’d like to spotlight about the office, either about how it operates now or what you’d like to focus on? 

Goldman: That would be my staff. Each one of them brings a uniqueness to my office. 

We keep candy at the counter during tax season because it helps that angry taxpayer who’s come in about their bill. So as they’re munching on candy and talking to the staff, the next thing you know, they’re laughing. We have people who pray for us. We have people who come by just to say hello. I’m very happy to see someone on the street and they know us, they recognize us. We get compliments in that office. I know you’ve been somewhere where you’ve walked into an office and you are either thinking (about the employees) ‘why are you working here, because you seem not to be happy here’ or ‘why did I walk in here?’ But for us, we actually get complimented about the customer service, about how we treat people. I’m very happy about that. The customer service comes first and it’s been very successful. I hope that continues. 

Hensley: This stems back to what I said earlier. Customer service is extremely important. I pride myself on customer service. You want to do right by the taxpayers. Regardless of anybody’s status, everybody in the county have to pay taxes. Each and every person deserves to be treated equal. I cannot stress the importance of that. And that is something I would definitely bring to the office and would continue to strive on every single day.