An unexpected vacancy in the Manassas Park commissioner of the revenue office has two local women vying for the spot--one who has worked in the office for eight years and boasts of her experience, and another who promises to use her technology skills to help update city operations.

Debra D. Wood (I), currently acting as interim commissioner, is a former deputy commissioner who in her tenure supervised daily operations in the office and acted on behalf of the commissioner in his absence.

Following the death of then-commissioner William Steele in May, Wood, 44, was appointed by the Prince William County Circuit Court to fill the position until a special election could be held.

The revenue commissioner assesses real estate and personal property taxes and administers business licenses and other taxes. Along with the city treasurer, the slot is one of two elected constitutional offices, and the salary is paid largely by the state. The starting salary in Manassas Park is $44,722, according to the Commonwealth of Virginia Compensation Board.

Yolanda R. Smith (R), an insurance claims representative who works in Reston, is looking to take the seat, saying if elected she will "place a stronger emphasis on customer service . . . and ensure timely assessments."

Adding that she has extensive knowledge of modern technology, Smith, 29, promises to "utilize my skills and business experience to implement the necessary changes for bringing [the office of commissioner of the revenue] into the new millennium."

"Doing what we have always done will only result in getting what we have always gotten," her platform brochure states. "Our notices must be sent in a timely manner to ensure prompt payment."

Wood, however, countered that "there is no substitute for experience," saying her years of working in the office--knowing the "ins and outs" of the operations--should tilt voters' choice toward her.

"I'll make sure people and businesses pay their taxes, and plan to hire another auditor to help us achieve our goals," she said, adding that the city's economic viability is largely dependent on the manner in which the revenue is collected.

In the City of Manassas, former vice mayor John P. Grzejka (R) was appointed by the Prince William Circuit Court to be interim commissioner of revenue after then-commissioner Gary Plaugher died in early June. Grzejka is running unopposed.