Ed. note — The Independent News asked candidates for Virginia Beach treasurer to answer the following questions. This appeared in print on Friday, Nov. 3. Responses to question have not been edited, and they appear in the order of the candidate’s names on the ballot. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Residence: Alexandria Community
Age on Election Day: 57
Occupation: U.S. Navy (Retired)
Key endorsements: Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Beach City Councilmember Ben Davenport
What are your specific qualifications for this office? I am a retired Navy Master Chief with 25 years of active-duty service. I led men and women on sea and shore duty, as well as in and outside of combat zones. I managed divisions and departments of more than 1,000 Sailors and Marines performing maintenance on aircraft and aircraft parts. I graduated from St. Leo University with a BS in Computer Information Systems with an emphasis on business. I was taught to do federal and state taxes by both the IRS and the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have volunteered my services to Sailors, Marines, and the citizens of Virginia Beach completing both individual and small business taxes since 1993.
What are the most pressing issues to you and how will you address them in office? Transparency and accountability of funds are the two most pressing issues I want to address in the Treasurer’s office. I would like every citizen to know where their taxes and fees are being applied. I want to provide visual and text explanations of how each dollar the city receives is spent. Changes in the department’s website, town hall informational sessions, and attending civic league meetings are methods I would use to interact with citizens regularly. I want to encourage interaction with the Treasurer’s office via workshops and presentations to our residents and business owners.
How will you coordinate with city officials to ensure proper function of your office? I would work with city leaders including City Council to ensure that the Treasurer’s Office operates in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws and ordinances. I would take the politics out of the office and be the Treasurer, not a de-facto City Council Member. I believe that it is important to have an open and honest relationship with all city leaders and I intend to bring that element back to the Treasurer’s Office.
John T. Atkinson
Residence: Chesapeake Bay Shores
Age on Election Day: 76
Occupation: City Treasurer
Campaign phone: (757) 927-1133 ♦ firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your specific qualifications for this office? I’m a 10-term incumbent.
What are the most pressing issues to you and how will you address them in office? The City of Virginia Beach for 21 years has been attempting to connect the assessor, commissioner and treasurer’s office in a modern shared database tax system. I hope to see that accomplished in this term.
How will you coordinate with city officials to ensure proper function of your office? Propose no unworthy projects, show the advantages to be gained from full funding, and live by the basis of the budget.
Kim A. Bentley II
Residence: Green Run
Age on Election Day: 35
Occupation: Systems Analyst
Key endorsement: Beach South Realty
What are your specific qualifications for this office? As a Systems Analyst for a healthcare company, I specialize in solving complex problems to identify anomalies and errors that save the company millions of dollars and hundreds of man hours. I’ve used my skillset both in our Regulatory department and to help our members. Utilizing those skills flexibly – regardless of setting – is basically in my job description. Nobody likes paying taxes, but I know I can give our city a better customer service experience and make the payment process easier.
What are the most pressing issues to you and how will you address them in office? Some of the most pressing issues are —
► Customer service: Increasing customer service is a step toward increasing satisfaction with local government. I will be the last single person to call a customer before any collections actions are taken on any account.
► Re-evaluating small business permit costs and fees: Working with the Commissioner of Revenue is essential to promote the growth and prosperity of “Mom & Pop” and “Single Truck” businesses that are the foundation of our economy. I also want to simplify the permitting process to make new applications and renewals easier.
► Audit My Office: I’ve had quite a few constituents question the impropriety of some of the contracts and payments made to some of the contractors that seem to be a little too close to some of the city’s leadership. I want to conduct a completely transparent 3rd party audit of the city’s finances dating back 10 years. I’ve made this a campaign platform since Day One, and it now seems prescient that the current Treasurer has found to have “misapplied” $250,000 of taxpayer money.
► Complete Transparency: Every cent of taxpayer money should be shown in a clear and easy to understand manner. Setting up an online database where Virginia Beach’s expenses can be tracked and how money is being managed is essential to assuring residents are aware their money is being put to best use.
How will you coordinate with city officials to ensure proper function of your office? I want to work very closely but ethically and in compliance with the offices of Commissioner of Revenue and City Auditor. It is my goal to make sure the Treasurer’s office exemplifies the rule of law regarding constitutional offices and financial compliance. It’s important that our city’s leaders exceed expectations when acting as public servants.
By working with the City Auditor, I can assure that as few compliance issues as possible are experienced. Working with the Commissioner of Revenue we can make sure the infrastructure, residential, and small business needs of the city are adequately funded while maintaining or lowering the current tax burden on fellow citizens.
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