Darlene Phares, who currently serves as Randolph County chief deputy/bookkeeper/estate and committees coordinator, has filed to run for the Randolph County Commission.
Phares cites her 19-year career within the county system as the basis for her qualifications for the commission position.
At the beginning of her county career, she served as tax deputy for the Randolph County Sheriff's Department. The duties covered the areas of license clerk and administrative assistant to the sheriff and law enforcement. Qualification for this position required extensive training at the West Virginia Police Academy, the result of which assured certification of the sheriff's office in becoming one of the first in the state to submit online uniform crime reporting to Charleston.
In her current position, Phares oversees the tax office and the collection of all county taxes. Under Phares' supervision, tax year 2011 saw the largest amount of taxes ever collected in Randolph County History.
The chief tax deputy position includes many and varied responsibilities including handling receipts of all county revenue, distribution of taxes to entities, reconciling 63 county checking accounts, preparing monthly financial statements, preparing an annual settlement report and compilation of tax liens for the annual county tax lien sale.
Phares' earlier career choice in the area of banking helped prepare her for the chief tax deputy position. Supervising tellers, opening new accounts, issuing CDs and IRAs and coordination of security with local law enforcement were some of the areas of banking in which Phares was training and became proficient. The last stop in her banking career found her promoted to assistant vice president of the then new Elkins branch of Belington Bank.
"Having spent my entire life here, I care deeply about this county and its future," Phares said. "Working in the tax office, I come in direct contact with the taxpayers and have the opportunity to hear firsthand their concerns. The personal contact has made me a good listener, a trait I will carry over to the commission position.
"My chief tax deputy position requires that I make many decisions every day, and I do so based on my experience and common sense, while, at the same time, using caution and considering all possible outcomes. Honesty and dependability are, also, absolutely necessary. All of the attributes that I feel I practice - at home and at work - are just as essential for the position of commissioner.
"I believe that the voter is looking for someone qualified to do the job. And I believe that my longtime service to the taxpayers and dedication to doing the job right fill that qualification."
Phares and her husband, Don, also a lifelong resident, reside in Gilman, where they have attended and been active in Orlena United Methodist Church for more than 35 years. She has also been a member and officer of the Creative Homemakers Club. Phares is the daughter of the Ellwood "Fergie" Ferguson and the late Betty Norton Ferguson.
In addition, Phares currently serves on the Legislative Committee for the West Virginia Tax Deputies Association and has held officer positions in the statewide association. Locally, she annually coordinates and represents the sheriff's office in the Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs program.