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La Gaceta endorses Griffin for Tax Collector

From “As We Heard It,” by Patrick Manteiga
Originally published July 31, 2020

Democrats April Griffin and Nancy Millan are vying to replace the retiring Tax Collector Doug Belden. The winner will face Republican TK Mathew in November.
Nancy Millan has served in the tax collector’s office for over 30 years. She is a senior manager with Belden and handled much of the outreach and communications with the public. Her boss strongly supports her candidacy.
We did not ask to interview Millan, as we knew at the end of last year we would be supporting our friend April Griffin. We have known April for over two decades. We met when she reached out to us when she was president of the Hillsborough County Young Democrats and ever since, we have allied to help Democrats and have advised her during her career.
April served on the School Board for 12 years. During that time, she worked hard and smart to accomplish many goals. She strengthened the career and technical programs, helped reduce the achievement gap with minorities, fought against attempts to discriminate against the LGBTQ and Muslim communities, expanded student healthcare and much more.
She was one of the first to realize School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia was hiding troubles in the school district with her iron-fist control over district staff and Elia’s battles against all board members who challenged her.
April was key to firing Elia and after her departure, new district leadership discovered Elia was spending the schools’ reserves on recurring expenses and had she stayed, the financial crisis would have magnified. During her elected career, she has been attacked for doing the right thing by the Christian right, Tampa’s establishment, the Tampa Tribune, and the Tampa Bay Times. She fought with tenacity and bravery against these powerful forces and won for students and taxpayers.
These groups still don’t like her today, but we do.
The tax collector’s office, according to the Tampa Bay Times, is failing to provide needed services in this time of COVID-19. The Times writes that appointments to get renewed licenses and tags stretch farther than 30 days out and many citizens are finding they are driving illegally on expired licenses and tags without it being their fault.
People trying to renew multiple mobile home tags are being told they have to do them one at a time or they can instead pay a separate service to do them all at once.
The lines have been long at the tax collector’s office and the office hasn’t been as nimble as it needed to be this spring and summer.
We think new leadership will help the office rise to new heights. April wants to make hours more convenient, use technology to expand services and reduce the need for clients to come into the office. She also wants to use mobile units to provide services in underserved communities. April knows how to fix people’s problems with the bureaucracy and address system-wide failures in customer service. It’s what she did for 12 years on the School Board.
La Gaceta confidently endorses April Griffin for Tax Collector.

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