Election season is in full swing, with voters in Pinellas County facing decisions on everything from the property appraiser to the sheriff in November.
As part of the Gabber’s election coverage this week, we’re reviewing lesser-known races to help voters make a more informed choice.
In this issue, we take a closer look at the Pinellas County Tax Collector and Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.
Tax Collectors are also known as “revenue collectors.” The Tax Collector’s office provides a hodgepodge of services to residents, including property tax collections.
The money we spend on these services, such as vehicle registration, then goes back into the hands of the government to pay for public services.
The Pinellas County Tax Collector also issues driver’s licenses, identification cards, and titles and registrations for automobiles, trucks, mobile homes and vessels. The office also acts as an agent for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by issuing hunting and fishing licenses, processes Concealed Weapons Permit applications and Florida birth certificates.
In 2019, the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s office collected taxes and fees totaling almost 2.3 billion dollars. The staff processed more than 470,000 tax bills, answered almost 280,000 phone calls, served over 960,000 walk-in customers and processed almost 620,000 mail and internet transactions.
November 2020 Pinellas County Tax Collector Candidates
Incumbent Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas served as Pinellas County’s Chief Deputy Tax Collector for 16 years before becoming Tax Collector in 2017. Thomas is also the past Chairman of the Pinellas Federal Credit Union, a board member of the Florida Sterling Council and a member of the Government Finance Officers Association. He will run for a second term this November as the Repulican nominee. Learn more about Thomas at votecharlesthomas.com.
Democratic nominee Joe Saportas will oppose Thomas. Sportas comes from a business management background and promises to update the entire tax collection process according to his website. For more information on Saportas’ objectives, visit electjoesaportas.com.
Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
The Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller is one of seven Pinellas County Constitutional Officers directly elected by county citizens and responsible for safeguarding all public records and public funds. The Clerk of Court manages all courthouse records, a local budget of approximately $43 million and over 500 employees.
“Although many people don’t know what the Clerk’s office really does, the scope of our activities affects life every day,” Ken Burke, current Clerk of the Circuit Court told the Gabber. “Whether acting as a partner in the court system, maintaining government accountability, or preserving public records, we are working hard on your behalf and value the privilege of serving your needs.”
The Clerk’s office also accepts passport applications, issues marriage licenses and performs wedding ceremonies.
November 2020 Pinellas County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Nominees
Pinellas County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller incumbent Ken Burke runs unopposed this year. Burke has been Pinellas County’s Clerk Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller since 2004 and has run unopposed for the last four elections. Learn more about at mypinellasclerk.org.