By Randy Arrington
LURAY, March 31 — A little more than a decade ago, Tom Bauserman asked longtime Page County Commissioner of the Revenue Charlie Campbell what he needed to do to pursue a position like his. The advice included attaining certifications in various aspects of the office’s functions and a desire for public service.
Since that conversation in 2012, First Lt. Bauserman has spent a decade serving in the Virginia Army National Guard and the Active Guard Reserve (2017 to 2020), after first earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science (with a minor in Military Science) from the University of Virginia-Wise. While on the campus of the southwest Virginia university, Bauserman also served in the Army ROTC.
Since 2020, the Page County native has worked for the Rockingham County Commissioner of the Revenue’s office as a real estate assessor, handling more than 5,200 parcels annually. During that time, Bauserman has attained certification in both real estate assessment and mass appraisal, and he’s plaining to attain another certification this year.
Earlier this week, Bauserman officially announced his intentions to challenge two-term Republican incumbent Becky Smith and seek the office of Page County Commissioner of the Revenue in this fall’s general election.
“I’m from here, and I care about our community. I will do, every day, the best job I can. I’ve been training over the last several years and preparing for this,” Bauserman said. “Competition is good for the community. Competition forces politicians to pay more attention and be involved in the community.”
He serves as chairman of the Environmental Committee for the Luray Ruritans, a civic organization that he was introduced to at a young age through the involvement of his family. It was there that he was also first introduced to the idea of public service.
“I learned from my dad and uncle, who were in the Luray Ruritans for more than 50 years (Mark and the late Gary Bauserman)…going to meetings as a kid and hearing about all the things they did in the community,” Tom said. “I’ve been blessed…You give a little bit of your time, and it gives you a sense of self worth…that I’m working to the betterment of my surroundings…and you see what some people have to do to scrape by.”
While he has not yet filed his official candidacy paperwork with the county registrar, he plans to do so well in advance of the June deadline. Bauserman also intends to enter this year’s race as an independent.
“Serving the community and serving the citizens should be impartial…it shouldn’t matter what political party you belong to,” he said. “You are there to serve the people, and not a party. I think some change would be good.”
Among the changes Bauserman is considering, if elected, includes the way the county conducts its reassessment of its 21,566 taxable parcels every five years. The Rockingham real estate assessor believes Page County could improve its process by hiring staff to assess property values rather than “spend $571,205 for reassessment like the county did last time with a group from Roanoke.”
Bauserman believes that even if the transition is a wash financially, it would create a better system because “property values would be more fair, accurate and equal.” He proclaims that as much as 30 percent of parcels in the county could be inaccurately assessed.
“Bring a couple of extra jobs into the county and make the process more fair and equitable,” he said, “and have the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office doing its job.”
Having grown up on his family’s beef cattle farm, the 2010 Page County High School graduate knows the importance of agriculture to the local community.
“I am a defender of the land use program” he said of the county’s more than 3,300 parcels benefitting from land use tax breaks. “Growing up on a family farm…I want to protect people who are willing to work hard.”
If elected, Bauserman said he would have no predetermined plans to make a dramatic change in staff.
“If you can work with me, I can work with you,” he said, noting that it takes years to complete multiple certifications covering the various functions of the commissioner of the revenue’s office.
On June 2, First Lt. Bauserman will celebrate his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife Hannah. They are continuing to celebrate the arrival of two-month-old daughter Lana.
While he acknowledges that there is a side to “dealing with taxes” that isn’t always fun, Bauserman says his work as an assessor in Rockingham has given him a sense of pride through the opportunity to serve the elderly by helping with paperwork for senior tax credits, and looking out for the men and women who have served our country through veterans’ benefits and exemptions.
Now, he hopes that a decade of preparation will pay off at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
“I will do the best job I can for the community,” Bauserman said. “I will treat everyone with dignity and respect…fair and equitable.”
Learn more about Tom Bauserman on his Facebook page.