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Pinellas Tax Collector candidate Charles Thomas rolls out campaign platform at Clearwater fundraiser

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Charles CarlosThomas only jumped into the race for Pinellas County Tax Collector last month, but he’s hit the ground running.

The Republican, who served as Pinellas’ Chief Deputy Tax Collector since 2000, laid out the foundations of his campaign platform to a crowd of supporters gathered last night at Bascom’s Chop House, in Clearwater.

“We have, in our branch offices, a 99 percent satisfaction rating from our customers,” said Thomas during his opening remarks. “So if that’s what you like, and if that’s what you want to have continue in Pinellas County, well, that’s what I’m going to give you.”

Thomas said one way he’ll go about delivering on that promise is by maintaining a customer service oriented workforce.

“The plan is to recruit, retain, develop, and inspire today’s, as well as tomorrow’s, public servant whose focused on customer service excellence,” said Thomas. “That’s how we’re going to continue to deliver that high level of customer service that you’re used to and that you deserve here in Pinellas.”

More specifically, Thomas said — should he get elected — that he’d also bank on his employees to be ever mindful of new ways to make the office run more efficiently, saying, “they’re the folks that have the best ideas on how to make things better,” citing their continuous day-to-day dealings with the office and those who use it.

Thomas also discussed the tax collector office’s need to incorporate private sector techniques into its daily operations, should the office want to maintain its efficiency in the future.

“You should adopt the best practices from both the public sector and private sector any time you have the opportunity,” Thomas said. “So my pledge is to continue the organization’s goal of being better tomorrow than it is today, and one of the best ways to do that is to adopt the best practices, wherever we find them.”

Before linking up with Pinellas’ tax collector team, Thomas worked as the program manager for Gordon-Darby Inc., where he was responsible for maintaining the company’s $5 million annual budget, as well as overseeing the day-to-day operation of 11 separate locations which generated roughly $14 million in annual revenue. 

To close out his comments, Thomas turned his attention to technology, proclaiming that, “we need to use technology when there’s a good return on the investment, and when it brings value to our customers.”

He pointed to the wide array of citizens who depend on the tax collector office as an example of why it’s imperative to stay ahead of the tech-curve.

“We serve a wide range of people: from the 16-year-old who just got their license, to the retiree,” said Thomas. “And they all have a different need, and a different way they want to be served. As the younger folks come on, they’re looking at their smartphones. They’re looking to technology for the answer.”

So far, Thomas is the only person to enter the race for the county’s Tax Collector post.

According to the most recent figured filed with the supervisor of elections, he’s raised $30,000 for his campaign, about half of which Thomas gave to himself.

His host committee includes six of Pinellas’ seven constitutional officers: Public Defender Bob Dillinger, State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Clerk of the Court Ken Burke, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, outgoing Property Appraiser Pam Dubov, and outgoing Tax Collector Diane Nelson.

Some other big name supporters include St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes and Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni.

The General Election is in November.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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