In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Mike Twitty
Office: Pinellas County Property Appraiser
Elected Property Appraiser in 2016, 30 years of experience in the valuation of a wide variety of property types within Pinellas County, business owner and operator for 25 years, former Director of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Appraisal Institute, Qualified as an expert witness in five area counties relating to real estate valuation matters, Served as a key member of a national technology taskforce in the valuation sector, Vice chair of Pinellas County Human Rights Board and Business Technology Services Board, Chair of Property Appraisers’ Association of Florida’s Florida Flood Impact Committee, Awarded 2020 Florida Chapter of the International Association of Assessing Officers Member of the Year, State-Certified General Appraiser, MAI Designation from The Appraisal Institute, Certified Florida Appraiser (CFA), Licensed Real Estate Broker, Majored in Real Estate & Urban Analysis at the University of Florida.
Why should voters vote for you?
I have the valuation, management and technology skills to continue to effectively lead this complex office that is responsible for valuing 450,000 parcels of real estate and tangible personal property each year, administering property and personal exemptions, tracking ownership records and sales transactions, and maintaining the tax parcel maps. My stewardship of the office has allowed return of over $1.5 million from our budget during my first term while elevating customer service and advancing the office through process improvements and innovation.
During my first term I’ve exhibited strong, steady and thoughtful leadership not only within the office, where I’ve made extensive process improvements for the benefit of the taxpayers and staff, but also at the local and state level via various initiatives focused on consumer protection. These have included sensible solutions to issues facing our county and state via both technology and legislative led actions.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
- Roll out the new PCPAO.org website, which will focus on ease of use while containing powerful data and mapping tools to assist our citizens and businesses.
- Continue discussions with our municipalities to encourage their adoption of the Low-Income Long-Term Residency Senior Exemption to allow our vulnerable seniors to remain in their homes longer.
- Continue to reduce citizen missteps and increase taxpayer understanding by building upon our extensive community education and outreach efforts (Interacted with over 8,000 area citizens at over 150 events since taking office).
- Refine our processes by leveraging technology, continue to develop exceptional staff in all departments, and maintain good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
Experience & Leadership – These qualities are essential to lead a dynamic organization such as the Property Appraiser’s Office. My experience and skill set allow me to communicate effectively throughout our various departments to keep the office running smoothly and successfully.
Equity/Credibility/Service – Our office has been recognized by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) with the Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA), which less than 2% of counties have earned nationwide. We have a talented appraisal staff that strives for excellence in the mass appraisal field to ensure fair and equitable valuations along with exceptional customer service throughout all departments. My staff and I are passionate about public service and embrace our role to help our citizens and to demystify Florida assessment law, which is quite complex. Our efforts are rewarded by overwhelming customer responses that we are “exceeding expectations”.
Standing up for our Homeowners and Businesses – I’ve taken action to save Pinellas property owners and all Floridians tax dollars, such as advocating for the renewal of the 10% Non-Homestead cap that aided both property owners and renters. This year I am the catalyst and champion of Amendment 5 on the November ballot, which will allow more time for our homesteaded owners to transfer their Save Our Homes benefit to their next homestead and not lose this valuable benefit. This is important since the current law can limit this time frame to as little as one-year and a day if a property is sold at the end of a year.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
I’m extremely passionate about consumer protection for all, which requires transparency and education to achieve greater citizen engagement and understanding. I choose the appropriate tool to best arrive at an effective solution. Sometimes that’s a new web-based tool for our citizens, such as our new buyer tax estimator, sometimes an internal process improvement to proactively prevent citizen missteps, and other times it may require a legislative fix (Amendments 5 & 6). No matter what the issue, I will continue working to find smart solutions to area challenges that could destabilize our county and the quality of life within it. One such solution involves introduction of potential legislation at the state level to begin sensible long-term flood and sea level rise mitigation and resiliency to combat homeowner equity erosion (drafted and being discussed with area leaders).
As it relates to the role you are seeking, how has that governmental body handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you do differently/the same in handling both the public health risk and the economic recovery?
When the pandemic began to hit our state and county in mid-March, I was quickly able to migrate all staff to a work-from-home environment with zero disruption of service to the public (shifted away from walk-in to online, phone, email, and drop boxes) due to technology, training and tools we put in place over the past few years. Staff continues to thank me for my leadership through this challenging time. During period, I was also the catalyst and elected chair of the new Public Messaging Committee within the Property Appraisers’ Association of Florida to assist all Property Appraisers’ offices statewide with consistent messaging relating to potential COVID-19 value impacts. This was critical to increase public awareness of when value impacts would be considered based on state law.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
We will continue to follow and refine best practices within the assessment field to prevent disparate impacts to any minority groups within our county. We will always strive for fair and equitable valuations for all property owners.
What motivates you to run for public office?
As a lifelong resident I have a deep love and appreciation of Pinellas County. I want to do my part to continue to make it one of the best places to live, work and raise a family and feel that I can best make that impact in my current role as Property Appraiser. I understand the challenges facing our county and desire to tackle issues that fall within my purview for the betterment of all in Pinellas County.