TAMPA — Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden plans to run for a sixth full term in 2020, the Republican told the Tampa Bay Times this week.
"I have a great great workforce and I want to make sure i stay with them until we've accomplished everything I want to accomplish," Belden said.
Belden, 63, just won another four-year term in 2016, running unopposed. The long-time Republican official had previously indicated this may be his last term in office due to declining health.
But he has since improved considerably and sees no reason not to run again — or to announce his intentions early. There's still a 2018 election between now and then that will feature a handful of key county commission races.
"I guess because I'm getting much, much better and I try to plan," Belden said of his early decision to run again. "And I just think if I make a decision, that's what i want to do. I got a lot more that I want to do and I didn't know I would progress so well."
Belden credited "prayer and sheer determination," for his recovery from back surgery that had relegated him to a walker and caused him considerable pain and discomfort. He has since lost 60 pounds, he said, and mostly can get by with a cane.
First elected in a special election in 1998, Belden has coasted to re-election every year since. He has often enjoyed support from both Republicans and Democrats and has won several accolades for his office's operations. He was the first tax collector to win the Governor's Sterling Award for excellence in management and performance.
He has his sights set on a greater price, the Malcolm Baldrige award, handed out by the President of the United States to companies, organizations and government bodies that demonstrate superior management.
"It's the most prestigious award you can win," Belden said.
The county tax collector earns a $168,379 salary. In addition to collecting taxes, the office also handles many drivers' license functions for the state. Last year, Belden also agreed to take on many of the duties of the now defunct Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, the contentious government agency that used to oversee taxis, limousines and ride sharing companies like Uber.