The August primary race for property appraiser was a crowded one with five candidates. It’s now down to two: former property appraiser Pedro J. Garcia, 77, and former Hialeah State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, 44. They are vying for the opening created in January when Carlos Lopez-Cantera was appointed the state’s lieutenant governor.
Mr. Garcia has 38 years of experience appraising Miami-Dade property and was a long-time member of the Value Adjustment Board, an independent quasi-judicial body that adjudicates cases appealed to the property appraiser’s office. In 2008, he became the county’s first elected property appraiser, but lost his seat to Mr. Lopez-Cantera in 2012.
There is no doubt Mr. Garcia is more knowledgeable about financial matters. Mr. Gonzalez, chair of the Miami-Dade legislative delegation, has hit term limits, but little in his legislative experience seems to have prepared him for this position, nor did he make a persuasive case to the Editorial Board.
During his first go-round, Mr. Garcia made some significant changes to the office, but stumbled. He was accused of not cracking down on homestead-exemption fraud. His decision not to include foreclosures in the valuation of homes and not dealing quicker with homeowners challenges were also concerns.
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Both candidates pledge to make the office more virtual, allowing property owners more information online, making TRIM notices easier to understand, modifying homestead-exemption filings and offering an open-door policy. Mr. Garcia seems to understand his lapses. Given his deeper knowledge of the office, voters should give Mr. Garcia a second chance. The Herald recommends PEDRO J. GARCIA for Miami-Dade property appraiser.