Retiring tax commissioner honored

Retiring tax commissioner honored

DeKalb County Tax Commissioner Claudia Lawson thought she was to attend a budget meeting Dec. 15. Instead, the Board of Commissioners surprised her by recognizing her 36 years of service to the county.

“I never had any intention of being your tax commissioner, just a good public servant,” Lawson told the audience at the commissioners’ meeting. “I say to all elected officials, that’s who we are. We are public servants and I have truly enjoyed the awesome journey I have had with DeKalb County. I’m humbled by the experience.”

A Florida native who earned her bachelor’s degree at Florida State University, Lawson moved to Georgia in 1977 when her husband’s job transferred him to metro Atlanta. 

Lawson, who will retire Dec. 31, began her career with DeKalb County in 1979, working in the vehicle registrations division and as deputy tax commissioner and chief deputy tax commissioner before becoming the county’s first female and Black tax commissioner in 2006.

 Under her leadership, the county’s tax office became the first in the state to have implement an imaging system for property tax and motor vehicle records, and computer storage for permanent records.

Commissioners had much praise for Lawson.

“You have always been so available to everyone, not just to the commissioners, but the public as well,” said Commissioner Kathie Gannon.

 Gannon said Lawson, who replaced long-serving Tax Commissioner Tom Scott after his death, “took over a position with some pretty big shoes to fill and made those shoes even bigger for the next person that comes along.” 

Commissioner Mereda Johnson said Lawson is her “friend who is not only good at her job, but…she’s a good-hearted person and I think that we all can learn from her.” 

 “She is my shero and I’m going to miss her and I hope that her successor has learned a lot from her. I love you, Claudia, and I’m going to miss you,” Johnson said.

 “You can’t say enough good things about Claudia and her wisdom,” said Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton. “I found myself talking to her a lot. She’s always there for you with kind words, with sage advice and she just tells it like it is.

“Thank you for being you, Claudia,” Sutton said.

 Commissioner Jeff Rader said the difficulty of being a commissioner “is nothing compared to the job of a tax commissioner because it has been Mrs. Lawson’s job…to separate people from their tax obligation with a smile on her face. And she succeeded in doing that.”

Additionally, Lawson “has had the success of being able to collect almost 100 percent of the taxes that are owed to the county and to not engage in some of the practices that have become popular of selling liens and disrupting peoples’ lives in that way,” Rader said.  

“Thank you…for setting such a high standard,” Rader said.

Lawson said, “I’ve seen tremendous changes in this great county. Even though we have a hiccup here and there, we are still…the greatest county in the state of Georgia.

“Thank you for allowing me to be your public servant,” Lawson said.

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