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A Times Editorial

Warren's experience to serve county well

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


The campaign trail has been a long one for tax collector candidates Janice Warren and Lee Cooper. Along the way they left behind eight opponents who tried and failed to achieve what they have, which was to get their name on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

Now there are two, and voters are fortunate the fittest have survived.

Although both candidates have distinctive qualifications, including extensive financial backgrounds, one rises to the top because of her intimate knowledge of the community: Janice Warren.

At its essence, the job of tax collector entails collecting taxes and fees imposed by local and state governments. But in a broader sense, the tax collector does much more, often acting as a liaison between the public, the County Commission and several state agencies. It is imperative that the Tax Collector's Office operate in a professional, efficient and courteous manner. Organizational skills, an almost reflexive knowledge of applicable laws and, perhaps most of all, an understanding of the people to whom the services are delivered are essential.

Warren, a Republican, fills that bill. She has lived in Citrus County since 1972 and has been a banker here for 25 years, 20 of them as a manager. She has served selflessly as a volunteer with more than a dozen civic and business organizations, including several charities. Those deeds have earned Warren a reputation as a hard worker who truly cares about her community.

Warren promises that if she is elected, she will combine that depth of knowledge about Citrus County with her professional experience to administer the Tax Collector's Office. She plans to implement the latest Internet technology to modernize the operation, including putting the tax rolls on line. Warren also wants to enable residents to pay their taxes on line and by phone with a credit card, and will stay apace of statewide efforts to renew auto and boat registrations via computer.

Warren's opponent is Democrat Lee Cooper, a viable and progressive candidate for this office. If not for Warren, he would be the best of the large field of candidates for tax collector. The thrust of Cooper's gentlemanly campaign relates to his background as an accountant. He wants to make better use of the tax money as it is collected by investing it for higher yields. That proposal warrants further investigation, and if Warren is elected, we urge her to do so.

However, Cooper, who has lived here only three years, cannot overcome Warren's enthusiasm, her deep roots in the county, or her record of leadership and commitment to its people.

Simply put, Warren has already been a public servant in the private sector; now she wants to take it to the next level by becoming a public official. We recommend voters make that happen by voting for Warren on Nov. 7.

Opportunity to reply

Candidates not recommended by the Times are invited to respond. The reply should be no more than 250 words and must be received no later than noon Tuesday, Oct. 31. Deliver to 301 W Main St., Inverness, or fax to 860-7320, or e-mail as a text-only file to citrus@sptimes.com.

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