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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mike Twitty outraises other candidates for Pinellas County offices



In his quest to become the Republican candidate for Pinellas Property Appraiser, businessman Mike Twitty has raised more campaign cash compared to any candidate seeking a countywide office this year.

Through June 24, Twitty has collected $133,000, more than twice as much as his opponent Jim Frishe, a business owner and former state lawmaker, who has collected nearly $55,000. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has collected $119,000, records show.

Twitty, a Largo resident, has been a certified real estate appraiser for more than 26 years and has been the principal officer of his own firm for more than 23 years. He is also a licensed real estate broker.

“It’s a function of me being in the marketplace for long,” Twitty said about the donations from business owners. “I think I got a lot of credibility in that.”

The donations do not deter Frishe.

“I generally run grassroots campaigns and try to make as many personal connections as I can,” Frishe said. “He’s never been in politics. He has to raise more money.”

Frishe, 67, has spent decades in the insurance and consulting industries. He also served two stints in the Florida House of Representatives from 1984 to 1990 and then from 2006 to 2012. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Senate District 22 in 2012.

Frishe, who has taken appraisal classes in the last year, said he is not a “professional politician, but his years as a lawmaker provide “political experience” in navigating government bureaucracy.

Twitty, a 49-year-old political newcomer, has racked up endorsements from sitting Property Appraiser Pam Dubov, Clerk of Court Ken Burke (who encouraged him to run) and state Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Frishe has support from state Sen. Jack Latvala and state Rep. Larry Ahern.

Neither Twitty nor Frishe man have had complaints lodged against their real estate licenses, state records show. Both men say they would transfer their license to an inactive status since the property appraiser is a “full-time job.”

During recent meetings with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, Twitty and Frishe both praised Dubov for his years of public service.

Frishe and Twitty have similar campaign platforms.

Both men say their main focus as appraiser would include staff efficiencies, improving technology for employees and upgrading the office’s website for consumers.

“We do not have a user friendly Web portal,” Frishe, adding that it lags even more behind on mobile devices.

Added Twitty: “The website needs to be brought forward. It needs some modernization.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 1:22pm]


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