Both candidates for Allen County treasurer have experience as community treasurers. One has county government experience.
The current Allen County treasurer, Republican Susan Orth, is up against Scott Williams, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 election.
Orth was elected in 2008 and before that, worked for the county for almost 15 years – 10 years as the chief deputy treasurer and about five years as the assistant supervisor of assessments in the auditor’s office.
Orth said her years working in the treasurer and auditor’s office gives her an edge.
I have the experience, education and knowledge needed to do a great job for the taxpayers, Orth said.
The biggest challenges facing the treasurer’s office are budget cuts, reduced staff and a bad economy, she said.
Because of those challenges, Orth said she and her staff have had to find new and better ways of doing things, such as developing databases and offering new website tools.
Since being in office, Orth has created and implemented an award-winning online property tax information system and launched an online payment site allowing taxpayers to create their own escrow type monthly payment plan, she said.
She’s initiated easier access methods for taxpayers, including electronic payments or having taxes automatically deducted twice a year on tax due dates and collaborating with the clerk of courts to allow the use of the child-support dropbox for tax payments, she said.
In 2010 we achieved on-time billing for the first time since 2003, Orth said. She also worked with legislators to enact a state statute allowing tax e-billing.
Allen County was the first county to offer this service, Orth said.
As a result, Orth said her office has gained recognition by other county treasurers and has assisted them in learning methods and procedures used in Allen County.
I love helping people, serving in county government and making the best investment possible of county tax dollars, Orth said.
Williams has never served in an elected position but was the treasurer for Friends of the Parks of Allen County and served on the steering committee, as well.
Williams is best known for being the hub of his neighborhood as sole owner of Jesse & Sons Barbershop on Hanna Street.
The business, established in 1959, is the oldest locally owned barbershop in Fort Wayne, and Williams is the sole owner. His father, Jesse, died in 2005.
Williams often serves as a neighborhood advocate in a tight-knit community, he said. And he doesn’t just cut hair.
Everyone comes in here when they need information or services, he said.
Williams decided to run for treasurer of Allen County because he thinks he has the credentials, he said.
He also wanted to give voters a choice.
I don’t want to say anything negative about anyone, but sometimes when a candidate runs unopposed, they don’t have to work as hard to reach out to the people, Williams said.
The biggest challenge the county faces is dealing with budgetary concerns, Williams said.
Williams said it’s difficult to say exactly how he would cope with that until he was actually in office, but that he would do the best job with the guidelines given to him.
Williams and his business are the focus of a show about neighborhood barbershops on Fort Wayne’s Public Access TV station, Comcast Channel 57, called Barbershop Talk with Scott Williams that will air Friday, Sunday and Tuesday.