In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Joe Saportas
Office: Pinellas Tax Collector
25+ years Technology Consulting & Sales (Paradyne Corp 9 yrs.Telecommunications, Ascom-Timeplex 3 yrs. Video communications; FM Associates -National Sales Mgr. 8 years -Wired & Wireless networks Saportas Insurance & Financial Services & Consulting 12 years 8 years TC Resources, Inc Wireless Technology
Education: Bachelor of Science Degree from Florida State University-Industrial & Personnel Management-Master of Science Management University of Utah
Why should voters vote for you?
For 30 years, the people of Pinellas County had a well-respected love affair with their Tax Collectors, Diane Nelson, and Fred Petty. Over the last 4 years that has all dissipated. I am running to restore a high level of confidence in which this office was once held. I possess the unique skills to make that happen. My 40+ years in both the private sector and the public sector, have given me the leadership skills to do this.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
Day 1-Restructure HR offices to function as such; Review procurement practices; Call for PTO Audit immediately. Following CDC guidelines, I would increase phone staff and appointments; allow walk-in by using a drive-up approach. Extend hours of operation to accommodate customers. I am going to pilot a program for mobile units in our community. This program would allow us to take services to our disenfranchised neighborhoods and senior services.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
Since 2017, it has been noted that efficiency in the Tax Collector office has dropped; waiting times have doubled and tripled; employee turnover is high. Restructuring workflow to include express transactions, mobile units to cover the County will alleviate this problem. COVID19 temperature sensors at entry are needed; social distancing and masks to be required. Drive up access to be reviewed.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
Communication, Education, Transparency, and improving online services to be more user-friendly for our customers the public.
As it relates to the role you are seeking, how has that governmental body handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you do differently/the same in handling both the public health risk and the economic recovery?
I would have our IT team first improve our website, which lacks user friendly applications. This would streamline some of our services to protect customers and staff. The current tax collector failed to communicate with the people he was elected to serve re services and operations during Covid, that is a lack of leadership.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
In reviewing this office, it currently lacks diversity. I along with my transition team will be addressing the lack of diversity in the current upper administration.
What motivates you to run for public office?
I choose this office because this office lacks leadership and customer service. I have background to improve internal leadership/morale problems that currently exists in our Tax Collectors office. My office will totally be transparent, and information will be readily available for all to see online.