TAMPA — Rumors that former Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin would jump back into local politics next year came true this week when Griffin filed paperwork to run for the Tax Collector’s seat.
The decision signals an end to Griffin’s brief turn at civilian life following 12 years on the county school board. The 50-year-old Democrat decided not to seek re-election when her third term on the school board ended in November 2018. Since then, she’s worked as Public Defender Julianne Holt’s director of human resources.
Griffin resigned from that position in mid-September after rumors appeared in published reports that she would challenge longtime Republican incumbent Doug Belden for the tax collector’s job.
Griffin confirmed those rumors just hours before Belden unexpectedly announced he was ending his re-election campaign because of failing health. Griffin told the Tampa Bay Times she didn’t know Belden would be stepping down when she decided to enter the race.
“During my 12-year service on the Hillsborough County School Board, one of the largest in the nation, I was elected its chair twice,” Griffin wrote in a statement. “That invaluable leadership experience, combined with my administrative experience as the director of Human Resources for the Public Defender’s Office and experience in coordinating with other governments, makes me uniquely qualified to lead the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office.”
As of Tuesday, Griffin’s only challenger in the race was political newcomer Nancy Millan, a fellow Democrat. Despite her lack of campaign experience, Millan, 52, entered the race in early October with an insider’s advantage over Griffin.
Millan’s resume includes more than 30 years of on-the-job training inside the tax collector’s office. She worked her way up from an entry-level accounting clerk job to her current role as the department’s Director of Community Relations.
And now that her boss has decided to hand over the keys after 21 years in office, Belden has offered strong support to Millan’s campaign.
According to the Supervisor of Elections Office, neither candidate has logged any financial contributions to their campaigns.