Jason Steele wants the job of Brevard County Property Appraiser so that he can work himself out of that job. He is vying for the Republican nomination in the August primary.
“For a long term fix, I would love to tax in a different way using a formula based on square footage and location,” Steele said. “This could eliminate the need for the tax appraiser’s office and that would be okay by me. This would make assessments good for more years at a time.”
And Steele believes that the much of the tax system needs to be changed because it is unfair. He adds that he has the background and connections to make that happen.
“The way we tax is unfair, unpredictable, volatile, and political. Even if values plummet, taxes still go up. Amendment 4 would be the short term fix for all of these problems. It is a legislative fix that would reduce the 10% cap to 5%. That would be great for business re-investing.”
Steele refers often to his years as a legislator in state government, his relationship with current and former governors, and the recent endorsement of his candidacy by US Sen. Marco Rubio.
“We need a leader because it is important to lobby to change bad laws,” Steele said. ”The property appraiser’s role is quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial, administrative, and educational. Lobbying in Tallahassee is an implied area of the constitutional offices. “
There are two issues that Steele cites that set him apart from incumbent Jim Ford: using foreclosures to affect appraisals and the current appeals process.
“Using foreclosures in appraising property is illegal by the Florida Supreme Court. It artificially affects the fair value of homes,” Steele noted. “It gives a false sense of lower taxes, if affects lines of credit, and it affects business relocations. “
Steele has had a personal stake in the office’s appeals process as his fiancée – a former local politician – was embroiled in a dispute over the appraisal of her property.
“I would hire through the bidding process an independent consumer advocate to walk appellants through the process and I would also allow the consideration of outside appraisals during the appeals process. No one should have to go through the stuff my fiancée went through –which I believe was purely politics.”
The campaign has been consumed at times with charges of marital infidelity and sexual harassment in the Property Appraisers office involving Steele’s opponents. Steele notes that his background is not perfect and that some of the claims against him are false.
“I have been very forthcoming about previous personal failings, particularly past alcohol abuse. But the past is past and I am in successful recovery for that ,” Steele said. “I have also been accused of owing the IRS a bunch of money and that is simply not true.“ Steele produced a “Certificate of Release of Federal Tax Lien” to prove his point.
Steele feels confident about the campaign. “A recent poll of super voters has me in front. I am not a bureaucrat and I am not a double-dipper. That is where I am different from my opponents and that is what voters appreciate.”
The Republican primary for Brevard County Property Appraiser will be held on August 14, 2012. Candidates are incumbent Jim Ford (who did not respond for a request for interview), Dana Blickley, and Jason Steele. The winner will face Democrat Charlie Sitton on November6, 2012.