Meet the Candidates: Franklin County Revenue Commissioner
By Matt Wilson
For the FCT
Editor’s Note: “Meet the Candidates” will be a regular feature informing you about our local candidates leading up to the November general election.
This week’s featured candidates are seeking the local office of Franklin County Revenue Commissioner, an office that is currently held by Gene Ellison, who opted not to seek re-election. Those seeking the position are Democratic candidate Don Garrard and Republican candidate Veronica Stancil.
>Why are you running for this office? What made you decide to run?
Don Garrard: My goal in being elected Revenue Commissioner is to serve and help the people of Franklin County with any tax issues and other concerns that involve any area of the responsibilities of the office. Several friends and citizens of Franklin County asked me to consider seeking this office again. After serious consideration and encouragement from family and friends, I decided to announce my candidacy for Revenue Commissioner for a second term.
Veronica Stancil: I have considered running for a political office for some time. At the time I heard Gene Ellison was not seeking re-election, it was immediately on my mind because I have past experience as an employee in that office.
>Why do you think this particular position is important?
Don Garrard: Our property taxes and license fees collected by the Revenue Commissioner’s office funds the state, county, cities and public school systems. It’s important that all citizens’ property is appraised correctly, and that policies and procedures in both the property and tag and license departments are followed.
Veronica Stancil: Each elected official is in an important position. The importance of the Revenue Commissioner’s office affects each taxpayer. If anyone owns property, or vehicles, or a business they will have contact with this office. Millions of dollars travel through this office. There is a great accountability that goes with this position in collecting and disbursing the funds to the proper entities.
> Why do you think you are the most qualified for this position?
Don Garrard: I have over 31 years of managerial experience working for a Fortune 500 company, VF/Lee/Wrangler-Jeans Division. I also served as Revenue Commissioner for Franklin County from 2003-2009. No training will be required for me, other than updating to current procedures.
Veronica Stancil: I have in-office experience. I have 25+ years experience in public service. My willingness and availability to learn and apply all this knowledge will be a valuable asset for the citizens of Franklin County.
> What do you hope to accomplish if you’re elected?
Don Garrard: I will work hard to make our Revenue Commissioner’s office the best it can be. During my prior term, I maintained a working relationship with revenue commissioners from other counties so that by networking with others, we could be on the cutting edge of any new information and systems as they became available. I will work to maintain tax rates as low as possible, and apply for any grants that will benefit Franklin County. We applied for and received a $250,000 grant for mapping during my first term. I will work with county and city officials to attract good paying jobs since tax abatements for new companies and expansion for existing businesses are processed through the Revenue Commissioner’s office.
Veronica Stancil: If elected, I will examine office procedures, employees and make any changes necessary for improvements. The employees all work very hard. Hardworking and friendly service is what you will receive from me as well as the employees. I will be available to you. This office will be open to anyone to discuss problems or concerns you, the taxpayer, may have. People are equal to me and everyone will be treated fairly.
> Brief biography:
Don Garrard: I was born in Etowah County, Alabama, the 10th of 14 children. I was raised on a farm and know what hard work is. I graduated from Walnut Grove High School in 1963 and married Ann Wilson in 1965. I served my country in the U.S. Army from 1966 until 1968, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. I was in the middle of the TET offensive of 1968. After returning home, I attended Jacksonville State University using the GI Bill, and received a degree in Business Administration/Economics in December 1971. I went to work for the Lee Company as a management trainee in January 1972. In July 1974, I was promoted to manager of the Russellville plant. I was southeast Division Manager of Lee/Wrangler/VF until February 2002. My wife and I are proud parents of four children and eight grandchildren. Our children are Michelle James, Melanie Calvert, Jeff Garrard and Jon Garrard.
Veronica Stancil: I grew up in the East Franklin community. When people ask me where I am from, I respond “right in the path of the 2011 tornado”. My parents are Lowell and Bobbie Nell Copeland. I have two brothers, Jeff Copeland and his wife, Valerie, and Marvin Copeland and his wife, Tina. My spouse is John Stancil and we have two sons, Justus, 11, and Jonah, 7. We attend Bethel Baptist Church where John serves as Pastor.
> Final thoughts:
Don Garrard: N/A.
Veronica Stancil: I began my 25-year career at the Franklin County Courthouse at age 20. I worked in the Revenue Commissioner’s Office (formerly known as the Tax Assessor’s office) from 1989-1996. I started in the Circuit Clerk’s office in 1996 and currently work there as bookkeeper and magistrate along with other duties. My job has been a huge part of my life. Hopefully on Nov. 4, you, the voter, will advance me to the position of Revenue Commissioner.