Member, 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 2015, he served 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 late wife, Senator Sharon Runner, authored 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 California.
George and Sharon Runner were the first husband and wife in California history to serve concurrently in the Legislature. Their children include son Micah, daughter-in-law Sandy, daughter Rebekah, son-in-law James, and four grandchildren.
Sean Wallentine is the Chief Deputy to Member 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 Member 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 member 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 began working at the Board of Equalization in August 2013. As a Legal Advisor, she counsels Member 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 began working for Member 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 37 years, Douglas. They have two adult children, Adam and Trena, son-in-law, Waseem and grandson Myles. 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.
As Communications Director, David Duran serves as a media liaison for Member 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 Member Runner, David serves as a deacon and teaches Sunday school at his church. David and his wife, Christina, have nine children.
Cary began working at the Board of Equalization in July 2005. As a Legal Advisor, he counsels Member Runner on a number of tax matters including sales and use tax and franchise and income tax issues.
Prior to joining Member 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 joined the office of Member 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 is the Assistant Deputy to Member Runner and manages all aspects of the day-to-day office operations in conjunction with the Chief Deputy. Mai has more than 20 years of administrative, management and leadership experience in the government industry.
Mai served in the same position from 2003-2010 for Member Bill Leonard and Acting Member Barbara Alby.
Mai began her career working for Assembly Republican Leader Jim Brulte in his district office while she was in college. During her decade long service working in the state legislature she also served on the staff of Assemblyman Jim Battin and Assembly Republican Leader Bill Leonard. Mai specialized in organizing various events from the weekly caucus lunches, Legislative retreats and annual events including Legislative Ski Day.
She is a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. Mai majored in management and human resources and has a minor in public administration.
Outside the office, Mai enjoys reading crime, spy and political thriller novels, attending concerts and music festivals, spoiling her two rescue dogs and most of all spending time with her family.
Drew Mercy serves as Senior Advisor for Taxpayer Advocacy to Member Runner in his southern California office. In this capacity he assists the Senator on tax policy, taxpayer services and outreach. Drew previously served in Member 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.
Policy and Legislative Affairs
Tanya began working for the Board of Equalization in March 2013, as Regional Outreach Manager assigned to Member Runner's district. She joined Member 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.
After working close to 31 years for the Board of Equalization, Brian was appointed to serve as a Professional Advisor to Member 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 25 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 came to the Member 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.