“Common sense” was the bottom line voiced by all five candidates seeking voter support as Miami-Dade Property Appraiser during a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations (KFHA) forum on July 28.
Once an appointive position, the field of candidates for the Aug. 26 primary ballot quickly attracted a forum crowd exceeding 100. The field opened up after Gov. Rick Scott named Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez- Cantera as Lieutenant Governor in January.
Expected to draw Hispanic voters for Scott’s reelection bid, Lopez-Cantera had defeated Pedro Garcia in a countywide nonpartisan vote in 2012 to become Miami-Dade’s second elected appraiser after Garcia first won the post in 2008.
Property Appraiser candidates on the 2014 ballot:
Pedro Garcia who became the first to file to run for the office after spending 10 years as Magistrate on the county Value Adjustment Board, deciding property assessment appeal cases.
State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez of Hialeah, a term-limited Republican who headed the Miami-Dade delegation and was tabbed one of three front-runners for the post after filing.
Alex Dominguez, a pharmaceutical salesman who lost a 2012 House primary against State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, as well as a 2013 bid against Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo.
Carlos Gobel, executive director of a valuation and consulting firm that services South Florida markets who has served as a Special Magistrate for Broward County’s Adjustment Board for the past three years.
Albert Armada, operator of a private appraisal and consulting company for 23 years and serving as a Special Magistrate for Miami-Dade’s Valuation Adjustment Board for the past six years.
Winning The Miami Herald’s endorsement on July 28, Armada became a front-runner for the post along with Garcia and Gonzalez, any combination of the trio likely due for a potential runoff in the Nov. 4 general election.
In his typically bombastic style, Armada both amused and delighted the audience with his charges that “Miami-Dade tax rolls are fraught with challenges, inaccuracies and inconsistencies.”
Remarks like those drew smiles from Garcia who reiterated a stand voiced before a 2012 KFHA audience that “I don’t consider myself a politician; I am strictly a professional,” noting his election to the post in 2009.
A Realtor since 1974 with a 38-year record in real estate appraising, Garcia once again said he “would never represent any special interest but work only on behalf of taxpayer interest with fair and common sense judgment.”
Displaying a series of placards that showed Miami-Dade appeals cases topping the 200,000 mark, Dominguez charged that the “Property Appraisal’s office has consistently and intentionally provided homeowners with inflated property appraisals, resulting in a loss of over $60 million shortfall to schools.”
Gonzalez in briefer statements emphasized his past legislative service as proof of both experience and expertise, declaring he would “ensure fairness, professionalism and excellent customer service to all.”
Gobel wound up his remarks with a plea that voters consider “a new and fair approach” to the operation of the department, adding that he aimed “at providing as much information as possible for those concerned with their tax assessments.”