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Hillsborough public defender, tax collector receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Public Defender Julianne Holt and Tax Collector Doug Belden were awarded the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa’s fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award Monday.
Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden (left) and Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit Julianne Holt received the Tampa Tiger Bay Club's fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday. [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Times]
Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden (left) and Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit Julianne Holt received the Tampa Tiger Bay Club's fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday. [ANASTASIA DAWSON | Times]
Published Jan. 28
Updated Jan. 28

TAMPA — It was a night for looking back at the living legacy of two of Hillsborough County’s most popular politicians.

But with November’s Election Day inching nearer, the more than 200 political insiders gathered inside Ybor City’s Cuban Club Monday night found it hard to talk of anything but the future of county politics.

The collection of civil servants, elected officials, legislative influencers and more than a few campaigning candidates were brought together by the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa to honor the recipients of its fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award — Public Defender Julianne Holt and Tax Collector Doug Belden.

The two long-time constitutional officers seized the opportunity to endorse Sheriff Chad Chronister’s bid for re-election and backed Nancy Millan, Belden’s director of communications, in her campaign to replace him as tax collector.

And even Holt, 65, could not resist parlaying the night of tributes into a public announcement of her intention to seek re-election this year. (As of Tuesday morning she had yet to file paperwork with the Supervisor of Elections office.)

A win would add another four to Holt’s 33 years as public defender, managing the largest criminal defense firm in Hillsborough County and representing approximately 65,000 cases each year.

But the promise of another campaign season to come made for a bittersweet salute to Belden, who at 65 decided to end his campaign for a sixth term as Hillsborough’s tax collector.

Related: Citing failing health, Hillsborough Tax Collector Doug Belden ends re-election bid

In his remarks to the audience, the outspoken Belden was reflective, delivering a love letter to friends, colleagues and employees who turned his ideas into actions — a farewell to his 21 years in public office.

“Unfortunately, due to multiple health issues I have experienced in recent years, I have been robbed of my quality of life and forced to slow down,” Belden told the crowd. “I have come to the realization that there is a high probability that I will no longer be able to walk without a cane or walker. I ask for no sympathy because I have learned at a very young age that there are no guarantees in life. I have given it all I have.”

Related: Politician, public servant join candidates competing in Hillsborough’s 2020 elections

In 2008, Belden led the tax collector’s office to become the first in Florida — and the first agency in Hillsborough County — to receive the Governor’s Sterling Award, and later the Governor’s Sustained Performance Excellence Award. The office was the first in the state to use technology like online registration and remote self-service kiosks to eliminate the days of standing in line at the tax collector’s office to renew motor vehicle registrations. Since he became tax collector in 1998, Belden’s office has returned more than $311 million in unused commissions and fees to the county while maintaining an average 97 percent “good” or “excellent” customer satisfaction rating.

The stalwart Republican ended his remarks with an appeal for those in office to work hand in hand with those on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Tampa’s Democratic Mayor Jane Castor delivered a heartfelt tribute to Belden. And Democratic honoree Holt, introduced by Felony Bureau Chief Rocky Brancato, also embodied the call for collaboration across the county.

“It goes to show you that even though we’re a large community, we’re a small community where there are memories and there are stories to be told,” Holt said.


  1. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor answer questions during a meeting of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club Friday.
  2. A "for sale" sign beckons Friday along Sixth Avenue N in the Kenwood area of St. Petersburg.
  3. FedEx packages,  shown left, were filled with $81,000 from people out of state who Hillsborough deputies say were scammed by Dontavius Oakley, 35, who is charged with fraud.
  4. Jurors on Friday said they could not reach a unanimous verdict in the case against Michael Keetley, an ice cream man accused of murder. Keetley, right, smirked as the judge instructed the jury to try again to reach a verdict.
  5. A section of the Robles Park Village public housing complex was built on top the forgotten Zion Cemetery.
  6. Tampa Fire Rescue units arrived at 1011 E 23rd Ave. and put out the fire that consumed this two-story house. The fire was started by a man who trapped himself inside, officials said, and later died of his injuries.
  7. Tampa City Council chairman Luis Viera said Mayor Jane Castor's decision to add a second ambulance to Station 13 in North Tampa will improve emergency services for his constituents.
  8. A rendering of the new Ulta created by Hennon Group Architects and included in the permits for the building filed with the City of Tampa.
  9. New Orleans-based Dat Dog offers exotic sausages like alligator, duck and crawfish, along with multiple vegan options and more than 30 toppings. The chain is seeking franchisees to bring a location to Tampa Bay.
  10. James S. Moody III was appointed in January as a Hillsborough County Judge. He is the son of federal judge James S. Moody Jr. and the brother of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. [Photo courtesy of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court]
  11. Michael Keetley is brought into the courtroom during his murder trial Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 in Tampa. Keetley is the former ice cream truck driver who is accused of shooting a group of men in 2010.
  12. The Oaks Estate, a mansion owned by Lazydays RV co-founder Donald Wallace and his wife Erika. The property is a French-Normandy country-style gated manor build on Lake Thonotosassa listed on the market with an asking price of $17.5 million. It includes a main house, 2-story guest house, garage for up to 20 cars, workshop, pool house, gatehouse, horse barn with grazing pasture, indoor and outdoor pools, 2-story boat house, go-cart track, bowling alley and jogging trail pictured on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 in Thonotosassa.