County treasurer candidates speak at forum

Published 11:36 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

by Kenya Smith/Intern

As Election Day is steadily approaching, two candidates who are running for Treasurer of Southampton County spoke at the “Meet the Candidates Forum” in Boykins United Methodist Church on Thursday night. The event was sponsored by the GFWC Tarrara Woman’s Club. Cynthia Jarratt Edwards and Rhonda Vinson Griffin each delivered a 15-minute speech about their qualifications as treasurer.

Cynthia Edwards is an accountant for Southampton County, and has the following experience:

  • Assistant Treasurer of Sedley Baptist Church
  • Treasurer of Sedley Baptist Church Local Ministries
  • 7 years in administration/finance with Southampton County
  • 27 years in accounting/finance, administration, and human resources with Union Camp Corporation/International Paper/West Fraizer
  • 19 years in accounting/finance, administration, office management, human resources, taxes with Piedmont Pole & Piling LLC/Whitewood Timber Products LLC
  • 20 years in accounting/taxes with Jarratt Builders

During her talk, Edwards shared her plans for treasurer, and part of her plan is to decrease the number of tax write-offs.

“The amount of delinquent taxes is $536,559.30 for real estate and $848,097.71 for personal property. Solid waste fees and the standard utility bills are not included.”

Her next priority is to find a cheaper way of printing tax bills.

“The tax bills are outsourced by M&W Printers Inc. in Lynchburg. That can be done in-house at a cheaper rate.”

Finally, Edwards would like to improve customer service.

“I listen to what the citizens are telling me, and I do what I can to help them out,” she said. “I would also would like to make sure that the bills are distributed at an earlier time.”

Rhonda Griffin serves as interim Treasurer for Southampton County, and has previously served as the County Deputy Treasurer for 13-½ years under the leadership of David K. Britt. She also has the following experience:

  • Balance all bank accounts to the general ledger and work closely with the finance department
  • Complete the Treasurer’s Report for the Board of Supervisors
  • Oversee the daily running of the office and staff
  • Certified with the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service & Professional Studies through the University of Virginia.
  • 22-½ years in the banking industry
  • Handled cash management for four banks through James River Bank shares.
  • Assistant branch manager for First Virginia Bank
  • Assistant Area Operations Manager along with being a teller supervisor for two branches for BB&T

Griffin would continue to use DMV Stops, which prevent the re-issuance or renewal of registration for vehicles if an individual is reported as delinquent on personal property tax. She has already composed a delinquent tax list on the County website.

Following the speeches, the audience had a chance to ask questions and become more informed about the candidates. One of the questions was focused around how to communicate with customers who express concerns about their taxes. Both candidates expressed the importance of communication.

Griffin replied, “If  customers come in upset, you let them speak their mind and ask them what you can do to help them. You may not give them the answer that they want, but they need someone to listen to them.”

“You have to talk to people and understand where they’re coming from, so you can know what they need,” said Edwards, “You have to work with people in the county and explain why things are done in a certain way.”