Correction, 9/3/20: An earlier version of this article stated that Supervisor of Elections incumbent Julie Marcus had held the position since 2017. In fact, she was appointed to the position in March 2020 after Deborah Clark stepped down. The Gabber apologizes for the error.
Election season is in full swing, with voters in Pinellas County facing decisions on everything from the property appraiser to the sheriff in November. However, only 31.19 percent of registered voters actually voted in the August 18 election.
The big races get a lot of attention, but what about those down the ballot?
Here at the Gabber we feel it’s important for residents to know who they’re voting for and why. So, as part of our elections coverage leading to November, we’re looking at some of the lesser known races to help voters make a more informed choice.
In this issue, we’re taking a closer look at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections and Property Appraiser.
The Supervisor of Elections
The Supervisor of Elections is responsible for organizing and administering secure elections, maintaining voter registration records and encouraging continued voter registration. The SOE is also responsible for voter education.
The SOE must also keep an updated and accurate record of all eligible and registered voters. The SOE removes voters from the registered voter rolls if they no longer live in Florida, are deceased or for any other reason are no longer eligible to vote in Florida.
The SOE is also responsible for ensuring that every voter has equal access to the ballot in Pinellas County, which has 694,000 voters, 301 precincts and 166 polling places. The SOE vets candidates and holds them accountable through easily accessible financial documents and campaign reports.
Ever wonder why you can sign the same petition on every street corner? You can, but it doesn’t count more than once if the SOE does their due diligence.
November 2020 Supervisor of Elections Candidates
Julie Marcus is Pinellas County’s incumbent SOE. She was appointed to the position in March of 2020, after 20-year SOE Deborah Clark stepped down. Marcus is on the ballot as a Repulican nominee.
Marcus worked with emeritus SOE Deborah Clark for 17 years and has been involved in over 320 elections in Pinellas County. More information on Marcus can be found on her campaign website: electjuliemarcus.com.
Marcus is opposed by Democrat Dan Helm.
According to his campaign website, Helm is a lawyer with experience training lawyers and volunteers in election laws.
He says that his goal as SOE “is to protect the greatest form of democracy: the access and right to vote.”
“I am running for Supervisor of Elections to establish a better, more inclusive voting experience for our community, Pinellas County,” Helm states on his site. Learn more about Helm at votedanhelm.com.
Pinellas County has approximately 435,000 parcels of real estate and 15,000 taxable personal property accounts that must be valued and administered each year. That’s the job of the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s office. The property appraiser stands independently from all taxing authorities, who set millage (tax) rates, which is one piece of the property tax bill puzzle.
The property appraiser’s office determines value based on the local real estate market, which may move up or down from year to year based on market activity.
By not allowing both the taxable value of a property and the millage rate to be determined by the same office, residents are provided a check and balance and consumer protection.
November 2020 Property Appraiser Candidates
Incumbent Property Appraiser Mike Twitty was sworn into office in 2017. Twitty has more than 30 years of experience in the valuation of a wide variety of property types within Pinellas County, according to his campaign website, miketwitty.com.
Twitty is the Republican nominee and life-long Pinellas County resident. He says that, “as Pinellas County Property Appraiser, I will never give up the fight to protect our tax dollars and stand up for local homeowners and businesses. Pinellas County is one of the greatest places to raise a family and do business in the state of Florida, and I want to keep it that way.”
Twitty is opposed by Trevor Mallory, the Democratic nominee. If the name sounds familiar to locals, that’s because Mallory is also Gulfport’s Little League President. Mallory is also a property, renovation, and maintenance manager for Family First Homes in St. Petersburg, an organization that helps single families find affordable rental homes.
Mallory is currently a board member on the Lot Distribution Committee, the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, and the Affordable Housing Policy Group. Learn more about Mallory’s campaign at trevormallory.com.
Find out more about the election, including voting locations, at votepinellas.com.