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Candidate for appraiser no stranger to politics

John Barnes will make a second run for property appraiser this fall, facing an opponent he considers similar to his last one.

Barnes, a 62-year-old real estate consultant who lives in Homosassa, filed Thursday to run for the office. His filing papers have long been expected by Citrus politicos.

"It wasn't a surprise, I wouldn't think," Barnes said.

Barnes has been in the real estate business since 1986 and runs J & K Consultants, a permitting consulting firm that helps coordinate construction permits. He said he wants to see the Property Appraiser's Office cooperate more with other county agencies, and he also disagrees with the systems used to assign property values.

"I wasn't real pleased with the way they increased values last time," Barnes said Thursday. "Not that values have not gone up, but there are different ways of doing things."

Barnes served as a county commissioner from 1982 to 1986 and as a Citrus County Mosquito Control Board member for eight years. He has run two failed campaigns for public office: in 1986, when he was voted off the County Commission during the county's controversial attempts to pass a comprehensive plan; and in 2000, when he lost his first bid for property appraiser.

Barnes said he is glad he ran last time, because his candidacy brought about changes in the appraiser's office. Suggestions he made for improvements have been implemented, he added.

In that race, Barnes ran against three-term Property Appraiser Ron Schultz, who won 57 percent of the vote to Barnes' 43 percent. Schultz isn't seeking another term; so far only Melanie Hensley, the chief deputy property appraiser under Schultz who has worked in his office for 12 years, has formally announced a campaign.

Barnes said he sees no distinction between his last opponent and his current one.

"She's been with him 12 years. Is there a difference?" Barnes said. "I've never seen her stand up and oppose him. It's a toss-up."

In addition to his years in public office, Barnes was also the first county parks and recreation director, serving from 1976 to 1981.