Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ronda Storms, Bob Henriquez to challenge Rob Turner for Hillsborough County property appraiser

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner has gone through three re-elections with barely a scare.

That changed Friday when two political veterans announced challenges to Turner, reeling from his recent admission to the Tampa Bay Times that he sent dozens of pornographic emails to his human resources director.

State Sen. Ronda Storms filed paperwork to run against the embattled appraiser in August's Republican primary, citing the scandal. She was joined by former Democrat state Rep. Bob Henriquez.

Storms' exit from her Senate re-election campaign immediately sparked a frenzy of political jockeying for the seat she is vacating. Former Senate President Tom Lee announced late Friday he will pursue her vacated seat.

During a news conference at the Supervisor of Elections Office near Brandon, Storms said she could not let Turner's actions go unchallenged.

"As I was reading (about) it, I became more and more appalled," said Storms, R-Valrico. "My first response was, 'That can't stand. We can't let that go unrebutted. Somebody has to step up.' "

Henriquez said Turner's fall from grace was lamentable but "the unfortunate events of this week helped encourage me to enter the race."

The two bring name recognition to the contest, representing formidable opposition for a vulnerable Turner, who until now has done little campaigning or fundraising.

Storms is one of the region's best-known politicians thanks to her colorfully outspoken style in advancing conservative causes, particularly in opposing public prurience. She is sure to hound Turner on his pornographic correspondence.

Henriquez spent eight years in the state House ending in 2006 and is known as "coach" for his work with the Tampa Catholic High School football team.

But neither has appraisal training, a background in finance or real estate, or resumes big on experience running large organizations, though Henriquez has some management bona fides.

Henriquez, of Tampa, highlights his work from 2008 to 2011 as the governor-appointed administrator for the Florida Department of Children and Families in Pasco and Pinellas counties. There, he said, he oversaw a staff of hundreds and a multimillion-dollar budget. He notes he also worked as a senior planner for Hillsborough County government and twice had summer jobs in the Property Appraiser's Office as a younger person.

"I'm not an appraiser by trade, but I feel like I have the requisite experience to run the office effectively and efficiently," he said.

Storms' government experience is on the policymaking side. She has served six years in the Senate and was a Hillsborough County commissioner before that.

On Friday, she noted that she has worked closely on legislation that affects property appraisers, including multiple rounds of property tax reform.

"I spent quite a great deal of time on the issue of taxpayer rights and the value adjustment process," Storms said.

The property appraiser is responsible for assigning values to all land and buildings to determine tax bills. Turner's office has a budget of $11.1 million and 132 employees. The job pays $154,523 a year.

A banker by trade, Turner first ran for office in 1996 as a relative newcomer to politics, challenging incumbent Ron Alderman, who was facing criticism for cronyism and visiting bars during work hours. Through his 16 years, Turner trimmed staff and kept his budget level, rarely attracting negative news media attention.

That all changed this week.

He has faced fierce criticism after admitting to the Times that he sent multiple pornographic emails to human resources director Carolyn Filippone from late 2007 to early 2009. He also admitted that he dated Filippone for a brief period in his early days as the appraiser while she worked for him.

The emails were part of a sexual discrimination complaint Filippone filed against Turner that was dismissed in April. In it, she claimed she had dated Turner longer than he says and that she was banished to the appraiser's Brandon satellite office and cut off from her peers after his wife discovered text messages from Filippone to her husband.

Turner said the emails were part of a mutual, consensual exchange. He says most of the rest of the complaint was false, and he used that reason for firing Filippone shortly after the Times interview.

He has been out of the office attending a property appraisers' conference for much of the week and did not return phone calls.

There were already two other candidates before the porn scandal erupted: real estate broker James DeMio and Rob Townsend, who is running without party affiliation.

Times staff writer Caitlin Johnston contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] at (813) 226-3387.

ROB TURNER | Has gone through three elections without a major challenge to his office as Hillsborough property appraiser.

BOB HENRIQUEZ | The state representative, a Democrat, said he was encouraged to run by Turner's "unfortunate events.''

RONDA STORMS | The state senator leaves her re-election campaign after learning of Turner's scandal.

Ronda Storms, Bob Henriquez to challenge Rob Turner for Hillsborough County property appraiser 05/25/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 25, 2012 11:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.