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By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
INVERNESS -- Property Appraiser Ron Schultz sailed past Democratic challenger John Barnes to secure his third and final term in office.
Schultz, a Republican, took 56.65 percent of the vote.
"(Barnes) used the concept of being more friendly, and I will do my darnedest to try with the new County Commission to set it off on a friendly basis," Schultz said Tuesday night. "I don't want confrontation for the sake of confrontation."
"But when it comes to certain taxpayers wanting special treatment, we're going to have to have confrontation," he said. "I'm not going to change that."
Schultz has stirred his share of controversies during his decade in office, from fighting the County Commission over budgeting issues to wrangling with some of the county's largest taxpayers over questionable exemptions.
Barnes, a Homosassa real estate consultant who has held several county posts, made those controversies the cornerstone of his campaign. Barnes said that with his cooperative attitude, he would be able to avoid the legal standoffs -- and the hefty attorneys' fees -- that Schultz has had over the years.
But Schultz said confrontations are inevitable when he is trying to make sure people pay their fair share of taxes.
He also said his battles have benefitted the public. Once Florida Power Corp. dropped its challenge to its 1997 assessment, the company agreed to pay an extra $1.25-million a year in taxes, Schultz said.
Upon hearing the results Tuesday night, Barnes said, "If that's what the majority wants, that's what they get."
Schultz, of Homosassa, pegged his campaign to his experience. Unlike Barnes, Schultz is both a certified Florida appraiser and a state-certified general real estate appraiser.
Barnes said during the campaign that he would become a certified appraiser if he won the election.
Schultz, 61, was the property appraiser in Pinellas County for 12 years until losing his re-election bid in 1988. Two years later, the governor appointed him to replace Charles Allen, the ailing property appraiser in Citrus County.
Barnes, 57, has 14 years of experience as a real estate consultant. He also was the first county parks and recreation director, a county commissioner in the 1980s and a two-time member of the Mosquito Control Board.
With the tight presidential race, the state Republican Party made a concerted effort to get Republicans to the polls on Tuesday. Schultz said he and other Republican candidates benefitted from that, because some of those voters stuck with the party line in other races.
"They gave the vote to all of us," he said. "I am delighted about that."
Earlier this year, Schultz filed his paperwork with the state to retire on Jan. 4, 2004 -- the end of the term he won Tuesday night.
"I am delighted that I am going to get to finish my career in Citrus County," Schultz said as he hugged his wife, Diann, outside the Supervisor of Elections Office. "What nicer place is there to end your professional career?"