Stafford County’s incumbent Commissioner of the Revenue Scott Mayausky faces two opponents in next week’s election.
One is an independent who is promoting a new approach to determining property values in the county, the other is a Democrat who is campaigning for more transparency in the tax assessors’ office.
Mayausky, a Republican, has served as commissioner of the revenue for 20 years. He’s running for re-election based on his experience and his record.
“I’m the only candidate with the public finance experience and education to ensure that our tax base remains stable and revenues are available to fund services,” said Mayausky.
But independent challenger Paul Waldowski said he wants to change the status quo and offer county residents an alternative.
“The No. 1 reason why I’m running is to stop the opinionated real estate appraisals from becoming your next tax assessment,” Waldowski said.
Mayausky’s Democratic challenger, Lorena Bruner, has a different view.
Bruner is focusing her efforts on streamlining the services available in the commissioner’s office and making them more transparent.
“A person shouldn’t have to jump through hoops and know the right person,” Bruner said. “It should be fairly easy for them to get access, that’s why they get frustrated and give up. It’s all about being transparent, making that information readily available.”
The commissioner’s office is responsible for overseeing the reassessment of $20 billion of county real estate, which generates over $220 million in local revenue that is used to fund services from schools to public safety.
Bruner, a San Francisco native who moved to Stafford nearly 30 years ago, first became interested in politics while going through her divorce.
“The [military] system had a lot of issues,” said Bruner. “It didn’t support giving women the proper amount of information or supporting them.”
Frustrated, Bruner knew she had benefits that were due to her after her divorce, but she did not know how to access them.
“I did a lot of work, research; I visited military attorneys; I went to the local legal library,” said Bruner. “I got all the benefits in the end, but had to fight and research to get them.”
Locally, Bruner said residents often have difficulty finding resources at the county’s government center. She feels this information should be easy to find and more readily available to them.
Bruner also favors property tax exemptions for military veterans and rental relief for senior citizens.
Bruner has a bachelor’s degree in business and human resources. She is currently pursuing dual graduate degrees in government and business administration from Johns Hopkins University. She has also served as a university admissions counselor, a volunteer at a military law office, and has served with several nonprofit organizations.
As for Waldowski’s real estate appraisal concerns, the candidate said, “I can prove objectively that not only in 2006, but again in 2018, that people’s real estate tax assessments are being calculated by an appraisal system which is only for buying and selling real estate,” he said.
Waldowski said his “real-world methodology” would assess the value of property focusing on individual homeowners.
“The opinionated 20-year appraisal practice in place today must stop,” Waldowski said. “Assessors are still using Excel spreadsheets to determine your tax assessment.”
Waldowski said he would incorporate “basic property identification characteristics,” such as wetlands, easements, infrastructure depreciation and acreage into property value assessments.
A retired Air Force officer who has a master’s degree in computer science with an emphasis in operations research, Waldowski worked as a consultant for Geico and with the U.S. Senate.
Waldowski is a familiar face in the community. He’s a regular attendee and participant at Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors and School Board meetings. He’s also involved in several local organizations.
Incumbent candidate Mayausky grew up in Stafford and graduated from North Stafford High School. He is a graduate of West Virginia University and also earned a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University.
In 1995, Mayausky became involved in then-Commissioner of the Revenue George Gordon’s reelection campaign. He began his career in the county as a real estate appraiser in 1996, and just three years later, after Gordon retired, he ran for office and was elected as commissioner in 2000.
“In that time, I have expanded services and managed the population growth with the same staff as I had the day I got elected,” said Mayausky.
In addition to his involvement with several professional associations, Mayausky was awarded a Cahn Public Service Fellowship from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government in 2019. Mayausky also leads the county committee that is planning the Stafford Museum and Cultural Center, which will someday be located in the proposed Downtown Stafford neighborhood near the existing county courthouse.
Mayausky said there has been interest in building a museum in the area since the 1960s, and the Downtown Stafford project will finally give the county the opportunity to do that, making it one of the anchors in the new neighborhood.
If reelected in November, Mayausky said he will continue to expand online services for customers and will implement the latest in assessment technology. He also said he will “remain committed to public outreach and transparency.”
“I’m running because I love what I do and I love serving the community,” said Mayausky.