Tuesday, Aug. 14 is primary election day in Florida. Over the next three weeks, the Town-Crier will offer our opinions on some of the candidates voters will find on the ballot. This week, we feature the races for Palm Beach County Sheriff and Palm Beach County Tax Collector.
PALM BEACH COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR, DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY — The race for tax collector is an unusual dynamic, pitting the incumbent, Anne Gannon, against Peter Carney, a longtime challenger who formerly held the office briefly, having been appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush after the sudden resignation of former Tax Collector John K. Clark. When Gannon made her first run in 2006, we supported Carney, feeling that Gannon lacked the experience to hold such a position. However, in the six years she has held the office, Gannon has made definite improvements.
Gannon may not be the perfect tax collector, but she’s worked to do the job as well as can be done under very difficult circumstances. She was thrown huge underfunded mandates by the state and federal governments in the form of taking over the issuing of driver’s licenses (state mandate) and making them Real ID-compliant (federal mandate). This led a flood of people to suddenly show up at the tax collector’s offices when they wouldn’t have before, causing very long lines for a while. People might still complain, but it’s not really that bad now.
Can Gannon be faulted for not working with the county as much? Maybe. Can she be faulted for putting into operation a new computer system that had a few glitches in it? Maybe. But by and large she has made a hugely bureaucratic office far more streamlined in an era of declining revenues, and it saved money for the county.
Considering that Carney has run as a Republican several times and lost because Republicans generally aren’t elected countywide, his sudden conversion to being a Democrat because of his dislike for the Tea Party seems a little convenient. This is not a random politician looking for whatever opening he can find. Carney wants one job, and he keeps running for it. And quite frankly, he was a better candidate six years ago. He was more up to date and knew the office better. But for every year he’s been away, it has brought him further out of the loop. If the office isn’t broken, there’s no point trying to fix it.
This race is a Democratic primary, but since there are no challengers beside a write-in on the general election ballot, the winner of the primary effectively wins the race. The Town-Crier endorses the re-election of Anne Gannon as Palm Beach County Tax Collector.