Tax commissioner candidates stress experience

Tue, 07/01/2008 - 4:20pm
By: John Thompson

In this year’s spirited race for Tax Commissioner, incumbent George Wingo and challenger Linda Wells are stressing the experience at the local government level.
In questions addressed on The Citizen’s online forum, challenger Linda Wells points to her different areas of leadership.

“I served 10 years as the executive director for the Fayette County Council on Domestic Violence, now known as the Promise Place. During this time I worked with thousands of clients and established the county’s first transitional house for battered women and their children.

“I was elected to three terms as County Commissioner and four of those years I was on the Board of Health.

“I served two years on the American Red Cross Advisory Board, was founder of the Fayette Business Network and am currently a volunteer with Jobseekers of Peachtree City,” she said.
Wingo countered that his years of service as tax commissioner gives him the edge.

“My 15-plus years as tax commissioner and my years in public accounting demonstrate my superior qualifications to hold the office of tax commissioner. I have without question led the Fayette County tax office to the point of being acclaimed the best tax office in the metro Atlanta area, possibly the best in the state. Leadership is accomplished by example, and I and my staff are proud to provide the friendliest and most efficient service possible.

“My having served as chairman of the legislative committee of the Georgia Association of Tax Officials has provided an opportunity to work with representatives, senators and governors to improve the functions within the tax offices and delivery of services to the citizens.”

However, Wells feels that she could better serve the citizens.

“The most important aspect I will bring to the office is a fresh perspective. After 16 years, the incumbent has lost sight of the citizens. For example: our present tax commissioner has made no move to accept homestead exemptions or property tax exemptions via mail. To apply for these exemptions, citizens are required to come into the office. This process is especially difficult for the taxpayers working outside the county trying to arrive during office hours, standing in line is time consuming and with the rising cost of gas it is also expensive. Both Cobb and Gwinnett County already provide this service for their taxpayers,” she said.

But Wingo sees it differently.

“I will continue to work to improve the operations of the tax office and to streamline as many of these functions as possible. Currently Georgia law requires that applications for all homestead exemptions be made in person at the tax commissioner’s office, sworn in the presence of the tax commissioner or a staff member. I will be working to change the law so that these applications can be done online via the Internet with independent verification of pertinent data. My staff and I have always made senior exemptions a top priority. For the last several years, we have mailed notices to persons reaching age 64, 65 and 66, apprising them to available benefits. These services will be enhanced and improved when possible,” he added.
A full list of the questions and responses can be found at

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