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Eden, Henderson face off for tax post

Top candidates survive 4-person field to make runoff

POSTED: August 1, 2012 12:44 a.m.

Darla Eden and Kent Henderson survived a crowded field of Republican candidates running for the Hall County tax commissioner seat to meet in an Aug. 21 runoff.

Eden distanced herself from the other candidates with 39 percent of the vote, followed by Henderson with 23 percent. The runoff candidates eliminated Charles Lewis, at 21 percent, and Brad Dunagan, 17 percent, from the race.

Since there were no local Democratic candidates, the primary winner will take the job from retiring incumbent Keith Echols. Echols has served for three terms.

Eden, earning the most votes from the Republican primary, said her message of innovation for the office and her qualifications as a certified public accountant set her apart from other candidates.

Eden, 44, is a former Hall County government finance director and certified public accountant.

One of her goals, if elected, is to implement a “lock box” system for collecting mailed tax payments. The system, as she explains it, would mean that property tax payments would be processed by bank employees rather than tax commissioner’s office employees. Eden said there aren’t enough current staff to deal with all of the checks in a timely manner.

Eden will likely hammer her CPA credentials in the new race against Henderson.

With more than hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues coming in, Eden said a CPA is needed to managed such an important office.

“This office is the engine to economic recovery for Hall County government and the school system,” she said.

Her runoff opponent, Henderson, is a local business owner with an extensive public service history. He has served on Hall County’s Planning Commission and the impact fee board.

While Henderson doesn’t have a strong background financial in financial services, he has promised to bring a business owner’s approach to the tax commissioner’s office. Primarily, he would improve customer service by providing easier to understand information and make the office’s website more user friendly, he told The Times in an interview last month.

He also proposed finding ways to reopen satellite tag offices across parts of the county, possibly by using the county’s existing community centers and libraries.

Henderson has opposed proposals by Eden to bring the accounting part of tax collections into the job, saying the current system offers better checks and balances.

The Times was unable to reach Henderson on Tuesday night.


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