The election will decide whether Sonya Little, who has served as tax commissioner since David Fields resigned in February 2011, will keep the job, or whether the position will go to Kenny Phelps or Robert Wade Wilkie, who are also on the Republican ballot.
The race could go to a run-off.
Fields was first elected to the job in 1983 to replace Gene Hobgood, who became county commissioner. Fields cited health reasons in 2011 when he resigned and turned the job over to Little.
Little, 45, worked as chief deputy tax commissioner for 10 years before assuming the position, and cites her training and performance are reasons she should stay on in the job.
“I have received extensive tax and tag related training from the University of Georgia, Carl Vinson Institute and the Georgia Department of Revenue,” Little said. “I have reduced the office’s annual budget by over 10 percent yet was still able to expand services. I began with the Tax Commissioner’s Office in 1997 as Mr. Fields’ assistant and after learning every phase of the Tax Commissioner’s Office was appointed chief deputy tax commissioner in 2001.”
Phelps, 52, now works as a development inspection manager for Cherokee County’s engineering department, and points to his experience and customer service abilities as reasons the voters should choose him for the position.
“Given my experience working with Cherokee County for the past 25 years starting in the Building Department, Planning and Zoning, and Engineering this helps me to understand the interworkings of Cherokee County and knowing that customer service is No. 1 priority for the Tax Commissioner’s Office,” Phelps said.
Wilkie, 45, a real estate appraiser, says his 20 years in his profession fit him for the job.
“No other candidate has the daily experience of working with the Tax Commissioner’s Office from the public perspective. No other candidate has the working knowledge, to know where improvements are needed and the genuine desire to make those improvements so as to make a better office for Cherokee County,” Wilkie said.
Wilkie said the taxpayers need an advocate in the office.
“Customer service needs improving in both office locations. Minimal improvements such as fixing the drive-through window, and opening all lanes for service,” Wilkie said. “We will examine a public/private partnership with no cost to the taxpayer to consider adding a Q-matic system. This system is currently used by several surrounding counties to expedite tag lines.”
Little says the department already has excellent customer service.
“The Tax Commissioner’s Office created a greeter position in the Canton office to help taxpayers, our greeter helps people review their forms and answers questions to help taxpayers to be prepared, which reduces time at the window and time in line for each taxpayer,” Little said. “The current level of customer service is excellent, with wait times under five minutes on average.”
Adding a greeter to the Woodstock office to provide similar services would also be a good step to help that office in the same way, she said.
Phelps said he wants to stop the high rate of turnover, while maintain good customer service.
“Bringing my management skills and teamwork to the office will help create a good morale for the employees. When your employees are happy, the customers are happy,” Phelps said.