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  1. Opinion

Hillsborough property appraiser: The Times Editorial Board recommendation

The incumbent faces a longtime local banker.

The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser is responsible for assessing all property in the county for tax purposes. The appraiser determines the market value for hundreds of thousands of individual parcels, administers homestead and other property tax exemptions and maintains current ownership maps of all real estate in the county. The office has 125 employees and an annual budget of $14 million. The appraiser is elected to a four-year term and paid $178,927 per year.

Related: How the Times makes its political recommendations.

Bob “Coach” Henriquez

Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez. [ Hillsborough County Property Appraiser ]

The incumbent, Democrat Bob “Coach” Henriquez, brings a wealth of professional and personal experience to a job that hinges on fairness and accuracy. He is truly dedicated to public service and deserves another term.

Henriquez, 56, is a fifth-generation Tampa resident first elected as appraiser in 2012. A former county planner, he served four terms in the Florida House, representing West Tampa, beginning in 1998. His grasp of local growth issues, state law and the appraisal process give him a keen understanding of how to value the area market. Henriquez is a Certified Florida Appraiser and an officer of the state appraisers' association. He is up to speed on the latest professional standards and the practices of colleagues throughout the state.

Henriquez has brought new technology into use, sharpening the appraisal process. His office was prepared when the pandemic hit, shifting employees to work remotely, an exercise that has succeeded. Henriquez also put together a work group to examine the pandemic’s impact on property, and he is working with experts to assess the financial implications across various market sectors. In a field that is part-science and part-art, Henriquez has worked to create a fair, consistent system that aptly reflects the market.

His opponent, Republican D.C. Goutoufas, also has deep roots in the community. A fourth-generation Tampa resident, Goutoufas, 52, is a businessman and former bank manager who ran unsuccessfully for Tampa City Council in the 1990s. He has served on local boards addressing housing and neighborhood issues. Goutoufas overcame a hearing disability as a child and was later involved in bringing closed-captioning to local public access television channels. He said some valuations in Hillsborough are artificially low and inconsistent, which he vows to address with an open-door policy and a strong management team.

Some business interests have criticized Henriquez for the hard line he has taken in challenging tax breaks for tenants at Tampa’s port and airport. Henriquez is right, though, that the exemptions must be applied narrowly to the law, so why not let the courts decide? Henriquez has shown throughout his long history in public service a genuine interest in listening and uncommon fairness. His work with at-risk children and as a high school football coach also reflects a commitment to making his community better. For Hillsborough County Property Appraiser, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board recommends Bob Henriquez.

Related: All of the Times Editorial Board recommendations

Candidate replies

The Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply. They can send a reply of up to 150 words by 5 p.m. Oct. 9 to Editor of Editorials Graham Brink at gbrink@tampabay.com.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news

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