By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
June 14, 2017 | 11:oo a.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – “My motto for the treasurer’s office is ‘willing to serve.'”
Those were the words of longtime Prince George Treasurer Jean Barker as she worked with staff to finish processing taxes in the county offices Friday afternoon as her service to the community approaches its 35th year.
2017 will be the final year Barker will serve as the county’s treasurer as she formally submitted a letter to the Clerk of the Circuit Court stating her intention to retire effective December 31.
In her brief remarks, Barker praised the county and said it was a “true pleasure and honor to serve” in the position for so many years.
As she worked inside the treasurer’s office Friday, Barker reflected on the impact the residents and Prince George as a whole has had on her life.
“The reason I moved to Prince George is because it’s a friendly county where good families are born and raised,” she said. “The schools here are excellent and I want to see the county continue to grow.”
Serving as treasurer, Barker is intimately aware of the county’s overall growth of the past three decades as the overseer of the county tax collection.
“I am proud to say I do live here and I hope Prince George continues to grow in the future, but I don’t want to see Prince George become another Chesterfield County,” she remarked. “I really want the county to retain that rural atmosphere.”
The support of the community has been present consistently for Barker since she came on board in the early 1980s. According to data from the Virginia Department of Elections, going back to 2003, the earliest data available online, Barker ran unchallenged in 2003, 2007, and 2011, earning over 99 percent of the vote in those races. Barker was re-elected in 2015 following a challenge by Shelia Minor, with Barker earning 62 percent of the vote.
At the halfway point of her current term, Barker said it was time to step away.
“I have been here for 34 years,” she said. “I want to spend more time with my family and I want to travel, as well. I am still always willing to help out and I would come back if they need me, but I do not want to commit myself to every day anymore.”
Over those three decades, Barker has seen her fair share of change, particularly with how the job is done today from how it was done in 1983 when she first arrived at the county offices.
“When I came here, we had to manually hand-type everything,” she recalled. “We had to hand-type all the tax bills and mail them. Everything was manual and all we had was an old cash register. I even hand-posted the county tax books.”
As the days tick down to her retirement, Barker remains grateful to the community that she has grown to know over the years as they called and visited her office.
“I appreciate all the support and the confidence that the residents and citizens have had in me,” she said. “It has always been about being willing to serve, which is why I started payment plans in the office and tried to work with people and help them out, but, if they don’t follow through on their end, I have to take legal steps because I am elected to serve and uphold the laws.”
Among those praising the longtime treasurer is her daughter, Crystal, who called her mother “an outstanding role model” that has been an incredible mentor to her and many other people she has coached, trained and mentored throughout her career.
“She has always pushed herself to maintain her obligation as treasurer to the best of her abilities,” she shared. “She has raised our family in Prince George County, and she loves the county and the people in it. She has always volunteered as a community member, from coaching ball teams, helping foster children during the holidays, to putting on Prince George High School after prom parties.”
“Her focus has always been with the people and community as a whole and she sincerely appreciates being elected by the citizens of Prince George for so many years, to serve as their Treasurer,” Crystal Barker closed.
During their regular meeting Tuesday night, county supervisors agreed to petition the Prince George Circuit Court to request a special election be held during November’s general election on Nov. 7 to fill the remaining two years of Barker’s term.
Once the court decides on the date of the special election, interested candidates will be able to gather the required signatures to qualify for placement on the November ballot, with the deadline for inclusion on the ballot being 60 days before the day of the special election.
Supervisors unanimously agreed to the November 7 date for the special election, citing likely higher turnout due to the general election featuring the race for the governor’s mansion and a significant cost savings to the county, as hosting a countywide election outside the general election window is estimated to cost between $30,000 to $40,000.