Story by Chris Graham
The rain greeted him at every stop on his whistlestop tour, but Steve Sisson was unfazed.
The Elkton resident and former chairman of the Rockingham County Democratic Committee was touring the 24th Senate District on Saturday to announce his candidacy for the seat currently held by Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon.
It was clear from his energy that no amount of the wet stuff was going to ruin his parade.
“I believe we need a candidate who understands that public service is about … service,” Sisson said, standing on the front steps of the Augusta County Government Center in Verona.
Flanked by a dozen local supporters, Sisson also angled himself into the role of “anti-tax candidate.”
Sisson said he would like to work with state legislators to institute a plan to eventually phase out personal-property taxes – and pledged to support a cap on personal-property tax increases.
He also called for the removal of local county and city taxing authority for handling property reassessments.
“Reassessments are a shell game,” Sisson said Saturday.
“It’s an annual or biennial local tax increase hidden from public and political scrutiny.
“Real-estate taxes are bad policy for funding localities, and everyone who has to pay them knows I am telling the truth. There are just too many gray areas, too many revenue gaps,” Sisson said.
The property-tax system is a regressive system, Sisson said, “that places the burden on the middle class.”
“I would eventually like the tax system overhauled. And there are many options out there,” Sisson said.
Sisson criticized the incumbent for supporting a proposed tax overhaul that would likely lead to tax increases.
“We need tax reform, not tax increases,” Sisson said.
“Many folks ask me, ‘How does a budget crisis turn into tax reform?’ By coming up with a political excuse to raise your taxes,” Sisson said.
“Let’s examine the record. State revenues are growing, but not as fast as government spending down in Richmond,” Sisson said. “In other words, Richmond wants to tax you more in order to pay for bigger government.
“Mr. Hanger wants you to pay more for bigger government. I say, government must control spending,” Sisson said.
“I have been working since I was 14. I am now 46, married with four children. I have been paying into the tax system for 32 years, and I pay more and more taxes each year, and all I see is services being cut every year,” Sisson said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t have to be this way,” Sisson said.
“It’s time we take a stand and say ‘no.’ “