Candidates for treasurer’s office speak to standing-room only crowd

By Heather Michon

A forum featuring three candidates for this year’s county treasurer’s race drew a standing-room crowd to the Fluvanna Public School Administration building on Monday night (Sept 16).

Ben Hudson of Palmyra and Kim Oliver Hyland of Scottsville are each seeking to unseat long-time incumbent Linda H. Lenherr in November. Over the course of about two hours, they each answered detailed questions about their individual visions for the treasurer’s office.

The contrast between candidates was obvious from their opening statements. Both Hudson and Hyland are relative newcomers to the county; both have lengthy resumes in business and education. Neither has held public office. By comparison, Lenherr, a Fluvanna native, started with the county in 1971 and has served as treasurer since 1984.

Both challengers presented themselves as agents of change.

Hudson said his first objective was to “bring about a greater transparency in the office,” which would naturally lead to dialog with the staff and with the community at large. “Through that dialog, you’ll find solutions that you might not have come up with otherwise.”

He said his goal was to make the office a better place for all county residents. “I think I have the right sort of plan to accomplish that through effective transparency, communication, and accountability.”

Hyland argued the need for staff training and certification, a thorough review of current procedures, and to increase the rate for the collection of delinquent taxes. “We have a good collection at this point, 96 percent—but that three percent will give us about $800,000 more,” she said.

Hudson and Hyland stressed the need to modernize the office by offering online and credit card payment options, moving to a paperless system, using social media and other online communication to interact with the public, and reviewing the current investment strategies.

Lenherr, who hasn’t faced a challenger in at least two decades, pushed back against the implied criticism of her tenure.

“I’m not quite sure we’re in such bad financial shape,” she said after one comment from Hyland.

“I don’t have the choice of which computer system the county uses,” she said at another point.

Lenherr also gave somewhat contradictory responses to Hyland’s focus on training and certification. She insisted at one point that “my staff is educated; we’re just not certified.” At another point, she said, “I’ve not been offered any online training whatsoever.” She also said that, with such a small staff, it was hard to give people time off for certification courses.


Instead, she focused on her experience and her close ties to the community. “I enjoy my job because I enjoy serving the people of Fluvanna County,” she said in her opening statement. She later described herself as “a working treasurer” with an open-door policy and a desire to help delinquent and down-on-their-luck taxpayers come up with plans to meet their obligations. “I sometimes say I’m a psychiatrist,” she joked.

This summer, Hyland made headlines when she accused Lenherr of violating election law after witnessing Lenherr and others carrying what looked like campaign-related materials into the county office building just before the Fourth of July.

Last month, Hyland showed the Fluvanna Review security videos released to her under the Freedom of Information Act. The videos appear to show Lenherr and others carrying boxes into the office building, then emerging in the hallway from her private office about four hours later, carrying armloads of beaded necklaces affixed with strips of paper.

Lenherr and Hyland both participated in Scottsville’s Fourth of July parade, and Hyland showed the Review some of the necklaces Lenherr and her supporters tossed to the crowd. One still had a small ‘Lenherr for Treasurer’ tag still attached. Hyland noted that it was on the same type of blue paper used by Lenherr’s office for some tax bills.

Under election law, incumbents are prohibited from using government offices for any campaign activities. Hyland has reported the incident to the Virginia State Police and the Attorney General.

Neither Hyland or Lenherr brought up the allegations during the forum and the structure of the event limited interactions between the three candidates. Moderator Bill Hitchcock from the Fork Union Military Academy read out the questions, which were submitted by community members.

When asked if they would retain the current staff, Hudson and Hyland indicated they weren’t looking to clean house. Asked about increasing diversity, Hudson said that “I would seek that through recruitment,” reaching out online and through the high school and local colleges and universities. Hyland said a strong education program “will naturally increase diversity,” as employees gained training and moved into more advanced positions. “We need turnover,” she said. “It’s healthy.”

In their closing comments, each candidate stressed their individual visions for the office.

Hudson said he wanted to create a streamlined and efficient office where citizens were treated with respect. “I want to see smiling, positive faces in the office, people who are sympathetic and empathetic to the people we serve.”

Hyland talked about her drive and her willingness to “figure out what we don’t know yet.” She pointed out that financial processes had changed a lot in recent years, and that Fluvanna could “be state-of-the-art out here” and provide better service with a “well-educated staff and a well-educated treasurer.”

“We’ve had a long, good run” with Mrs. Lenherr, she added in closing, but after 35 years, it was time for fresh eyes.

Lenherr had the last word. “I’ve served as your treasurer for about 35 years, and I know people think that’s a long time,” she said. “But the treasurer’s office, it’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, and you have to take on a lot of hard work.”

“I’ve got that experience,” she concluded. “I’ve got that commitment to each and every one of you, and I’m committed to retaining that public trust.”

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138