Because of a terrible quirk in state law, the next Pinellas County property appraiser will be chosen only by Republicans in the Aug. 30 primary. The two candidates are Mike Twitty, a veteran appraiser in the private sector, and Jim Frishe, a former state legislator. There is no Democratic candidate, but the presence of a write-in candidate in November means only Republicans get to vote in a primary that should be open to all voters. Twitty is the clear choice.
Incumbent Property Appraiser Pam Dubov is retiring after eight years in office. Elected in the wake of a scandal, she has provided steady leadership and sound service to the public. The office faces new challenges with her departure, including more impending retirements of senior staffers with institutional memory. The office also needs to upgrade both the software it uses to appraise Pinellas properties and the website that serves as the public portal.
Twitty, 49, brings a wealth of knowledge to the position. A lifelong Pinellas County resident and University of Florida graduate, he went to work for Entreken Associates, a small local appraisal firm, and eventually bought an ownership stake. Entreken later merged with other firms to form Valbridge Property Advisors, a national company handling residential and commercial appraisals and eminent domain cases. Twitty has appraised thousands of properties of varying types and holds the field's highest professional designation. As a director with Valbridge, he has extensive management experience that will be key to running a professional office that serves the public. He has a vision for modernizing the office, including creating a user-friendly, one-stop-shopping website that can generate reports on individual properties and includes zoning and land use information, tax records and other public records.
Twitty, who is making his first run for public office, has a calm demeanor and the endorsements of Dubov, Pinellas Clerk of Court Ken Burke and Tax Collector Diane Nelson.
Frishe, 67, is a consultant and real estate broker who served two stints in the Florida House, from 1984 to 1990 and 2006 to 2012. He views the appraiser's position as a ministerial job that requires managing people and providing top-notch customer service. But experience is important. While Frishe has a laudable record of community involvement, he cannot match Twitty's expertise in the appraisal field.
In the Republican primary for Pinellas County property appraiser, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Mike Twitty.