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School official runs for tax collector

A School Board member from Dunedin, frustrated by the school system's lack of money, announced this week that he thinks he can do more good as county tax collector.

Ron Walker said he wants to see improvements at the tax collector's office to make the process more convenient for customers.

"I've heard persistent complaints about unhelpful clerks who are unsympathetic, and that the rules are so complicated," he said Thursday. "I think people are ready for some changes and some improvements."

Walker, 44, a two-term Pinellas County School Board member, said he has become disillusioned with the school system because state budget cuts have made it impossible for the board to make the decisions that need to be made.

"It's more and more frustrating to bring about change in the school system," he said. "We have no control over what we can do. We're usually told to do more than we can pay for."

Walker will be challenging O. Sanford Jasper, 85, for the job he has held for 31 years. Both are Republicans.

Walker, a Pinellas County resident since 1975, said he thinks perhaps someone with fresh ideas could serve the schools better.

"Eight years is enough. I've seen many of my ideas adopted over time," he said. "Today, the temptation is to defend the status quo, in part because I helped shape it. It's time for some new citizen with burning new ideas to come forward to serve."

By the same token, he thinks he can make big changes at the tax collector's office.

"When (Property Appraiser) Jim Smith was elected, he brought a fresh feeling there and inspired even those who had been there a long time," he said.

Walker said he wants to see it take less time to register a vehicle and see clerks treat customers with kindness and care.

Since he works as a computer, personnel and management consultant, he said, he should be able to make some changes.

"I have the skills to increase the service down there," he said. "One of the things we teach people is how to treat customers."

Another possible contender in the race is Clearwater City Commissioner Bill Nunamaker. Nunamaker, a Republican, has said he is considering running for tax collector.

The primary is Sept. 1; the election is Nov. 3.