ATHENS — Long-time incumbent Milburn Chaney and political newcomer Bryan Barker are squaring off in the Nov. 6 race for Henderson County tax assessor-collector.
Barker maintained that he has the qualifications of being a registered voter, a taxpayer and a U.S. citizen.
“It's my privilege and my duty to run if I want to run as a taxpayer and a citizen,” Barker said.
Chaney said, “I'm more qualified. Even if I wasn't running, I would-n't support him (Barker), alth-ough he's a good guy. He's just not qualified.”
Chaney has taken several courses required by the state for tax assessor-collectors to be certified. He also has taken continuing education courses to maintain his certification.
Barker said Chaney was a Democrat and then changed over to run as a Republican. “The captain of the ship had abandoned us and nobody wanted to step up, so I stepped up,” Barker, a Democrat making his first bid for public office, said.
Saying a Democrat should be tax assessor, Barker conten-ded Chaney did not know about serving as a tax collector when he started and that it would be a learning experience for himself, just like it was for Chaney in the beginning.
Barker, who is disabled, said he views the tax collector's job as a step toward getting back into the workforce and he eventually wants to become a paralegal. Prior to becoming disabled, Barker was a corrections officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and also worked for the Henderson County Juvenile Probation Department.
Barker said he would like to bring “more transparency” to the tax collector's office and would be a “people person,” bringing a hands-on approach.
Chaney said he currently is seeking legislation to expand property tax exemptions for widows and widowers of disabled veterans.
He also is seeking an amendment on the state presumptive value on automobiles to allow the buyer of a used vehicle to sign a notarized bill of sale stating the sales price for tax purposes.
Noting buyers often have to pay taxes on the higher value of a used vehicle listed in the state computer, Chaney said, “To me, it's not fair.”
In 1997, Chaney successfully sought passage in the state legislature of a bill to allow taxpayers over age 65 to transfer the frozen tax amount of their residence to a newly purchased residence.
Chaney said he likes serving people as tax assessor-collector. “I'm here every day unless I'm sick. I enjoy helping people, and I enjoy working and trying to make a difference,” Chaney said.
Chaney said he feels a lot has been accomplished during his tenure as tax assessor-collector, including the establishment of substations in Seven Points and Chandler. He said he is “proven, honest, dependable.”