NORTHAMPTON: Consuelo Gonzalez rises from humble beginnings to a top elected office

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EASTERN SHORE POST/STEFANIE JACKSON Consuelo Gonzalez, left, was elected Northampton County Commissioner of the Revenue in the Nov. 7 election. She replaces Charlene Gray, who is retiring as commissioner.

BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post—

As a child, Northampton County’s next Commissioner of the Revenue took toys to the farm fields to keep her entertained while her widowed mother worked.

Today, Consuelo Gonzalez has been elected as one of Northampton County’s top leaders.

Gonzalez, a 32-year-old real estate technician who was elected to be Northampton’s next revenue official, also will be the county’s first Hispanic constitutional officer.

“I feel like the community has trusted me and I am certainly humbled at the opportunity” to serve, Gonzalez said.

She will take over for Commissioner of the Revenue Charlene Gray on Jan. 1, 2024. Gray announced her retirement and Gonzalez decided to run for her boss’s position.

Gonzalez was born in Nassawadox, and her parents, who were from Mexico, raised her in Locustville, near Melfa.

When she was 8 years old, Gonzalez’ father died, leaving her and her brother in the care of their mother.

Life was challenging for her widowed mother, who also was an English learner, Gonzalez said.

She remembers many trips as a young girl to the bank and the post office, where she did her best to translate words that she had never heard before.

Both of Gonzalez’s parents had been farm workers, and her mother later worked for Tyson Foods and New Ravenna mosaics to keep the family afloat.

Gonzalez fondly remembers accompanying her mother to the fields and taking along toys to play with while her mother worked.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Gonzalez said of her childhood.

She graduated from Nandua High School and decided to work her way through college, aided by grants. To ask her mother for financial help “would have broken my heart,” Gonzalez said.

She entered Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, with an undeclared major.

Gonzalez’ college advisor suggested she try different courses, and when she took Government 101, she “loved it” and became fascinated with how government works, she said.

“You are there to serve for a better good. … You do make a difference,” Gonzalez said of the various government positions she has held.

Her first professional experience was handling personal property taxes for Northampton County from 2015 to 2018.

Gonzalez also spent a year as the business manager for the St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, in Onley.

While there, she began pursuing a master’s degree online through Regent University in Virginia Beach.

Gonzalez moved to the campus and started working at the Norfolk real estate assessor’s office in 2019.

She decided to return to the Eastern Shore in 2020, after she heard Northampton County’s real estate technician was retiring.

Gray hired Gonzalez for that position. In or around 2021, Gray confided that she would not pursue another term as commissioner of the revenue.

Gonzalez announced her campaign for the position in February. Even though she ran unopposed, she had to work hard to campaign.

To get on the ballot, Gonzalez had to collect at least 125 signatures on a petition and file the required paperwork.

She also attended events such as the Cape Charles July 4 parade and visited the polls to get to know Northampton residents and “feel connected to them,” Gonzalez said.

Gray, who was a “great teacher,” always emphasized customer service as the top priority in the commissioner of the revenue’s office. “They are big shoes to fill,” Gonzalez said.

She has no plans to seek higher office in the future. Gonzalez is “present in the moment” and focused on adapting to her new role. “It’s never boring,” she said of her job.

Her goals in her new position, in which she will oversee five employees, are “to serve everyone,” help taxpayers understand the 2024 real estate assessments, hear their concerns, and provide remedies, Gonzalez said.

She thanked Gray, her coworkers, and the voters for their support and “believing in me.”

Gonzalez said, “I will certainly do my best and have strong judgment and integrity in what they have confided in me.”

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