For the first time in more than two decades, residents of Hillsborough County are getting a new tax collector.
The new boss, unofficial results indicate, will be a familiar face around the office: Democrat Nancy Millan, a longtime staff member, got 55 percent of the vote Tuesday night against Republican TK Mathew, a self-employed small business owner.
“I am honored and humbled to take on this responsibility as the new Hillsborough County Tax Collector, especially being the first woman and the first Latina to take on this position,” Millan said Tuesday night. “I am ready to start on day one. I can’t wait.”
Doug Belden, who became Hillsborough’s tax collector in 1998 and remained in the job for 22 years, announced his retirement last year. He threw his considerable political support to Millan, the longtime director of community relations.
Millan, 54, joined the office in 1989, and since 2001 has led its public outreach efforts. Among her campaign talking points: expanding online services and self-serve auto registration renewal kiosks at retail sites, reducing customer wait times and making it easier for people to conduct their business without having to come into an office.
Millan ran on a platform of experience and collected a lengthy list of endorsements from local politicians. She handily defeated former Hillsborough School Board member April Griffin in a bruising primary and faced Mathew in the general election.
Mathew, 43, who previously worked at the tax collector’s office as a customer service representative, said he wanted to add hours, cut down on wait times, reduce fees and open satellite offices at MacDill Air Force Base and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
Before filing to run, he changed his name from Kuruvilla Mathew Thykuttathil, a move he said was motivated by difficulty with pronunciation.
The Hillsborough tax collector’s office collects and distributes property, business and other taxes. The office also processes driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, fishing and hunting licenses and other transactions. The tax collector serves a four-year term and is paid $178,927 annually.
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