Longtime incumbent Ken Wilkinson comfortably defeated political newcomer Kyle Lee in the Republican primary race for Lee County property appraiser on Tuesday.
With all but one of the 171 precincts reporting as of press time, Wilkinson took 71 percent of the vote, tallying 29,586 votes to 12,083 votes for Lee.
Wilkinson, who first won office in 1980, now faces John Glaser, a Democrat, and Larry St. Amand, running without party affiliation, in the general election Nov. 4.
“It was a nice win, no doubt about it,” Wilkinson said. “I hadn’t been on the ballot for 28 years so there was some anxiety, wondering how the voters were going to judge my service.”
Until this year, Wilkinson hadn’t faced opposition in a political race since 1980.
He counts authoring Florida’s Save Our Homes constitutional amendment as one of his biggest accomplishments. The amendment, passed in 1992, caps annual increases of taxable property values at 3 percent or the cost of living, whichever is lower.
Lee, 23, focused his first political race on the promise to re-assess every property in the county if elected.
He claimed current assessments are too high and don’t reflect the true real estate market.
“I thought it was going to be a little closer, to tell the truth,” he said. “But it was an experience I am glad I went through. I’m still young and I really believe I can help people in the long run in public service.” -- Pete Bishop