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Eden, Henderson face off for tax post
Top candidates survive 4-person field to make runoff
Hall County Tax Commissioner candidate Darla Eden has family and friends over to her house Tuesday after the polls close. She topped a four-person field for the post and will face Kent Henderson in a runoff Aug. 21.

We the People voting info, election results

Statewide results from Ga. Secretary of State Elections website

Hall County Tax Commissioner
Brad Dunagan 17.5%
Darla Eden 38.7%
Kent Henderson 22.6%
Charles Lewis 21.2%

What’s next: Eden and Henderson meet in Aug. 21 runoff. Winner faces no Democratic foe in November.

Darla Eden
Age: 44
Occupation: Certified Public Accountant/Chief Financial Officer with Jim Walters/Walters Management Co.
Political experience: None
Education: North Hall High School, 1985; North Georgia College & State University, 1989, Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting; Certified Public Accountant, 1991. Supplemented by continuing education of 40 hours per year including governmental, finance, accounting and auditing courses.
Family: Parents, Jim and Barbara Eden; brother, Jim Eden; brother and sister-in-law, Jeff and Tami Eden, sister and brother-in-law, Debbie and Jeff Bates and sister Deanna Eden
District history: As a result of my Hall County public education, it afforded me the opportunity to attend NGCSU and obtain a degree in Accounting and to earn CPA certificate. Since then, it has been a privilege to immerse myself in this community. I have always worked in Hall County and have been a homeowner for 17 years. I have a vested interest in Hall County and have served on many nonprofit boards and organizations. My particular passion is Junior Achievement and supporting financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills to our students.

Kent Henderson
Age: 44
Occupation: Business owner and builder/developer for the past 18 years.
Political experience: None
Education: Gainesville High School; Truett McConnell College; Georgia Southwestern College, majored in business administration
Family: Wife, Penny; two daughters Alexandria and Ashlyn
District history: As a life-long native and business owner in Hall County, I feel it is important to not only be a productive citizen but to also give back to the community. I have had the honor of serving on many local boards such as the Hall County Planning Commission, the Hall County Impact Fee Board, the Hall County Unified Development Code Committee, Sugar Hill School Council and the North Georgia Speech Center Board. I am also a 22 year member of Free Chapel Worship Center. I would like to continue serving the public as the next Hall County Tax Commissioner.

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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