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George Runner, Vice Chair, Board of Equalization, 1st District

George Runner
Vice Chair, Board of Equalization, 1st District

Elected in November 2010 and re-elected in 2014, George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a member of the State Board of Equalization. He is a leading advocate for California taxpayers. In January 2015, his colleagues chose him to serve as the Board's Vice Chair.

During his time on the Board, Runner has worked to improve California's tax policies and practices and to create and retain more private sector jobs in our state. He was instrumental in ending the practice of collecting security deposits from new business owners trying to do business in California. As a result, the state has returned tens of millions of dollars back to their rightful owners instead of keeping those funds tied up in a government account.

Runner led a successful effort to reform an ineffective use tax collection program targeting small businesses. He is an outspoken critic of the confusing and controversial California Fire Prevention Fee.

Prior to his election to the Board, Runner served twelve years in the State Legislature. As a thoughtful conservative, his legislative priorities included improving the economy, business growth, education excellence, and public safety for all Californians. As a member of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, Runner consistently led the fight against tax increases and supported tax relief for families and businesses.

Mr. Runner and his wife, Senator Sharon Runner, are the authors of Jessica's Law, which was passed by more than 70 percent of California voters in November 2006. It created some of the toughest and most comprehensive sex offender management and control laws in the nation.

He also authored the well-known California Amber Alert, which has resulted in more than 200 successful reunions of children with their parents, as well as California's Blue Alert, which uses Amber Alert technology when a peace officer has been killed, seriously wounded or assaulted with a deadly weapon and the suspect has fled the scene.

In recognition of his efforts, Runner was named Legislator of the Year by a number of respected organizations, including the California State Sheriffs' Association, Crime Victims United, California Sexual Assault Investigators Association, Coalition of Chief Probation Officers, California Coalition of Directors of Environmental Health, California Community College Trustees, and the California Building Industry Association.

He also received the Pursuit of Justice Award from the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys. Runner was consistently named one of Sacramento's most conservative legislators by the Capitol Weekly newspaper and received perfect legislative scores from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers' Association.

Prior to his election to the State Senate in 2004, Runner served in the State Assembly for three terms, from 1996 to 2002. During this time of service, Runner served as Vice Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. In this role he fought against tax increases and for tax relief on behalf of all Californians.

Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Runner served on the Lancaster City Council, including two years as mayor. In 1976 the Runners founded Desert Christian Schools, which is now one of the largest private schools in the State of California.

George and Sharon Runner are the first husband and wife in California history to have served concurrently in the Legislature. They are proud parents of their son Micah, daughter-in-law Sandy, daughter Rebekah, son-in-law James, and four grandchildren.

Staff

Sean Wallentine, Chief Deputy to the Board Member

Sean Wallentine
Chief Deputy

Sean Wallentine is the Chief Deputy to Vice Chair Runner. He is responsible for ensuring Mr. Runner's constituents receive the highest level of service and assistance from the State Board of Equalization.

Like Vice Chair Runner, Sean is a dedicated "taxpayer advocate." Knowing that businesses and individual taxpayers must abide by complex and confusing tax laws, he directs support staff and experts who regularly help Mr. Runner's constituents remain in compliance with the law, which leads to business success.

From day to day, Sean oversees Mr. Runner's staff and offices in northern and southern California. He advises the vice chair on matters including, but not limited to: general tax administration, tax appeals, tax policy changes, legislative measures, board policy and process, executive level personnel matters, interacting with the business community, communicating with the media and the resolution of constituent inquiries.

Sean is a California native and a UCLA graduate. He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1988 to 1994 and was on active duty in 1990 and 1991 during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Since beginning his career as a political adviser in 1994, Sean has worked for numerous elected leaders in the State Legislature as well as in the private sector as a campaign consultant.

Over the years Sean served as Legislative Director to Assembly Member Jim Morrissey and Chief of Staff for three members, including State Assembly Member Roy Ashburn, State Senator Bob Dutton and State Senator George Runner. Sean assisted these legislators with various public policy initiatives, emphasizing private sector job creation; welfare reform; enhancement of criminal penalties, especially for child predators; state budget development; government accountability; streamlining bureaucracy, and cutting government waste.

Sean is married to Doria (Morrison) Wallentine, who is a former staff member for Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte, State Senator Tim Leslie and Assembly Member Tom Bordonaro. They have three sons and reside in Roseville.


Michele Brown, Legal Advisor

Michele Brown
Legal Advisor

Michele began working at the Board of Equalization in August 2013. As a Legal Advisor, she counsels Vice Chair Runner on a number of tax matters including property tax and franchise and income tax issues.

Michele came to the BOE after working more than a decade in private practice representing corporate and individual taxpayers before the California Franchise Tax Board and California State Board of Equalization with disputes in a variety of complex state tax areas.

Born and raised in the San Francisco East Bay Area, Michele is a graduate of the University of California, Davis and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Michele and her husband, Eric, have three children.


Barbara Buus, Constituent Affairs

Barbara Buus
Constituent Affairs

Barbara Buus began working for Vice Chair Runner in November 2011 at the Southern California office. Barbara helps constituents resolve both individual and business tax problems.

Previously, Barbara worked for the Automobile Club of Southern California for 38 years. She filled a variety of positions involving research and administrative duties relating to customer's requests. She has also assisted in several of campaigns over the years, ranging from local mayor and judge campaigns, to state assembly and state senate campaigns.

Born in Whittier, California, Barbara now resides in Lancaster with her husband of 35 years, Douglas. They have two adult children, Adam and Trena, and son-in-law, Waseem. Barbara was chosen as a 2014 Honorary Commander at Edwards Air Force Base for the 445th Flight Test Operations. Outside of the office, Barbara leads a women's Bible study and enjoys quilting.


David Duran, Communications Director

David Duran
Communications Director

As Communications Director, David Duran serves as a media liaison for Vice Chair Runner and manages his communications to taxpayers.

David's professional career began when he was selected to the prestigious California Senate Fellows program. During his Fellowship he served in the office of Senator Bill Morrow.

Since then he has served as a staff member in the State Capitol for three other legislators including Assembly members Patricia Bates and John J. Benoit, and Senator Bob Dutton. He also served as the director of communications for a national non-profit.

David was born and raised in Minnesota. He moved to California to attend college at Claremont McKenna College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics, philosophy, and economics.

In addition to working for Vice Chair Runner, David serves as a deacon and teaches Sunday school at his church. He is also the founder of CalOpinion.com. David and his wife, Christina, have eight children.


Cary Huxsoll, Legal Advisor

Cary Huxsoll
Legal Advisor

Cary began working at the Board of Equalization in July 2005. As a Legal Advisor, he counsels Vice Chair Runner on a number of tax matters including sales and use tax and franchise and income tax issues.

Prior to joining Vice Chair Runner's staff, Cary worked in the Tax and Fee Programs Division of the Board's Legal Department. He represented staff at Board hearings and in other business taxes matters. He also wrote opinion letters to taxpayers explaining how sales and use tax apply to their business and personal transactions.

Born and raised in the San Francisco East Bay Area, Cary is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of California, Davis School of Law. Cary and his wife have two children and reside in Sacramento.


Micah Grant, Press Secretary

Micah Grant
Press Secretary

Micah Grant joined the office of Vice Chair Runner in March 2015. As Press Secretary, he serves as a media liaison and assists with print and electronic communications.

Micah began his career in government as an intern for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before moving on to become Deputy Communications Director of the California Republican Party. He then served a stint with the Assembly Republican Caucus as communications consultant before working minority outreach for Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff.

He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Communication Studies, and has a Master's degree in Marketing from the University of Phoenix. He was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles.

Micah and his wife Janae have been married since 2013. They are avid gamers and also spend time in the gym where they enjoy power lifting together.


Mai Harvill, Assistant Deputy

Mai Harvill
Assistant Deputy

Mai joined Senator Runner's office in January 2011 when he was elected to the Board of Equalization. As Assistant Deputy to Vice Chair Runner, Mai manages the day to day operations in conjunction with the Chief Deputy. She has more than 20 years of administrative, management and leadership experience in the government industry.

Mai served in the same position at the Board of Equalization from 2003-2010 for Board Member Bill Leonard and Barbara Alby.

Prior to coming to the BOE, Mai spent a decade working in the state legislature for Assembly Republican Leader Jim Brulte, Assemblyman Jim Battin and Assembly Republican Leader Bill Leonard. She started her career in Assemblyman Brulte's district office while she was in college and moved to Sacramento upon her graduation. Mai worked her way up from receptionist to senior assistant gaining valuable experience along the way before joining the BOE.

She is a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. She majored in management and human resources and has a minor in public administration.

Born in Vietnam, Mai came to California with her family growing up in the Imperial Valley. Outside the office, she enjoys travel, photography, reading and caring for her two rescue dogs.


Drew Mercy, Senior Advisor

Drew Mercy
Senior Advisor

Drew Mercy serves as Senior Advisor for Taxpayer Advocacy to Vice Chair Runner in his southern California office. In this capacity he assists the Senator on tax policy, taxpayer services and outreach. Drew previously served in Vice Chair Runner's Senate office starting in 2004 as a Field Representative and later as Deputy Chief of Staff.

Prior to 2004, Drew served in the State Capitol as Legislative Director to Assemblyman Ray Haynes and in the office of Senator William J. "Pete" Knight. He has worked in and out of government on many aspects of state politics.

Drew attended the University of California, Davis, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with a minor in history. Drew serves as a City of Lancaster Architecture and Design Commissioner. He is a past President of the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, a regional non-profit focused on economic development. He sits on the Measure R Bond Oversight Committee for Antelope Valley College, the Advisory Committee for the State Prison in Lancaster and is a member of Lancaster West Rotary.

Drew and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 2011 and live in Lancaster.


Eric Sarcos, Staff Services Analyst

Eric Sarcos
Staff Assistant

Eric Sarcos is an analyst with the office of Vice Chair George Runner. In this position, Eric assists with resolving taxpayer issues and works closely with Vice Chair Runner's staff and BOE staff to ensure taxpayers receive outstanding customer service.

Prior to joining Vice Chair Runner's office, Eric worked in the Board's Field Operations division handling administrative matters in the First District. While still in high school, Eric was recruited by the Taxpayer Records Unit.

Eric was born and raised in West Sacramento and is a full-time student at California State University, Sacramento, where he majors in accountancy. In his spare time, Eric enjoys photography and is a technophile.


Tanya Vandrick, Policy and Legislative Affairs

Tanya Vandrick
Policy and Legislative Affairs

Tanya began working for the Board of Equalization in March 2013, as Regional Outreach Manager assigned to Vice Chair Runner's district. She joined Vice Chair Runner's staff in January 2014 to oversee Senator Runner's policy and legislative agenda, coordinate educational events throughout the district, and assist taxpayers with various concerns.

After working in the travel industry, Tanya's legislative career began when she was selected for the California Senate Fellows program in 2000, placed in the office of Senator Bob Margett. Following the fellowship, she served as Legislative Assistant to Assemblyman John J. Benoit, and Legislative Director to both Senator George Runner and Senator Sharon Runner.

A California native, Tanya is a graduate of University of California, Davis and California State University, Fresno where she earned degrees in International Relations. Outside the office, she enjoys traveling, cycling, and reading.


Brian Wiggins, Professional Advisor

Brian Wiggins
Professional Advisor

After working close to 30 years for the Board of Equalization, Brian was appointed to serve as a Professional Advisor to Vice Chair Runner in December 2014.

Brian began his BOE career in 1985 as a Tax Auditor in the Salinas Branch office and moved up the ranks while working in the Bakersfield office, Out-of-State District's Western States office, and the Internal Audit office.

After serving more than 15 years as a first-line supervisor in the Western States office, Brian was promoted to Principal Auditor in the Fresno office in November 2012. In this role, Brian and the audit staff worked hard to educate Central Valley taxpayers on the partial farm exemption as well as the new manufacturing exemption. In addition to Brian's extensive experience with the BOE, he also has more than 23 years of personal income tax preparation experience.

Born in Texas, Brian was raised in California. He graduated from Fresno State University and is an avid Bulldog fan. He and his wife, Shari, reside in Sacramento and enjoy college sports and traveling. Brian has two adult sons, Daniel and Philip, who also reside in the Sacramento area.


Lee Williams, Senior Analyst

Lee Williams
Senior Analyst

Lee came to the Vice Chair Runner's staff with eight years of prior Board of Equalization experience under Board Members Bill Leonard and Barbara Alby. Lee is the lead staff member for sales and use tax matters and works on other taxes as needs dictate. Lee primarily works on appeals hearings and regulatory and policy review and development.

Lee enjoyed a 25+ year private sector finance and accounting career before beginning his Board of Equalization career. To date, Lee has not met anyone who has "paid" more types of taxes the Board of Equalization administers than he has, but Lee is looking forward to the day he does.

Lee is a Certified Public Accountant. Lee's educational background includes a Master's degree from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie-Mellon University and a Bachelor's degree from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.