Election 2012: Collier County Tax Collector's race -- Ray vs. Wagner

This is the third of a daily series of Q&A reports with the candidates in Collier and Lee counties, counting down to the Aug. 14 primary election.

Who gets your vote for Collier tax collector?

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— The Collier County Tax Collector's Office is a constitutional office with the elected tax collector serving a four-year term.

The office is responsible for collecting taxes on real and tangible property and for collecting local business taxes.

It issues vehicle, motor home and boat registrations.

Incumbent Larry Ray, a Republican, faces a challenger in the Aug. 14 primary. Steve Wagner, a Republican who worked for the tax collector's office until he announced his candidacy, is running against Ray.

All eligible voters in Collier County can cast votes in this race because there are no challengers on the Nov. 6 ballot.

This is the third of a series of reports about candidates on the Aug. 14 ballot.

Election 2012: Larry Ray

Candidate for Collier County Tax Collector.

* * * * *

Name: Larry Ray

Born: Aug. 29, 1943

How long you've lived in your county: 21 years in Collier County

Education: Bachelor's of Science in accounting from University of Missouri in 1965; Master's of Business Administration from Washington University of St. Louis in 1973

Family: Married to Pam for 46 years; daughter, Melissa; son-in-law, Marc Williams; two grandchildren; all live in Collier County

Party affiliation: Republican

Current position: Collier County Tax Collector

Q. What is the first thing you would do if elected?

A. My goal now is the same as it has been since the day I took office: top-class customer service, absolute integrity in all of our operations, improved communications with our customers, and a well-trained professional staff. I plan to continue to work on those priorities after the next election.

Q. What would you do to make the community a better place to live?

A. I have been able to keep the level of service in the Tax Collector's Office the same despite downward pressures on the budget. The citizens of Collier County deserve convenient, friendly, accurate service. As Tax Collector, I am fully committed to providing that service.

Q. What makes you the most qualified for this position?

A. I have 47 years of experience at various levels of management. I have an educational background in business administration. I have been awarded the designation of Certified Florida Collector by the state Department of Revenue.

Q. What distinguishes you from your opponent?

A. In addition to the experience and education listed above, I have been active in the community for many years. I have served on the boards of Junior Achievement, the Southwest Florida Health Planning Council, and the Citizens Advisory Committee for Transportation. I am on the Collier County Republican Executive Committee and I am an active Rotarian. I am fully invested in the community.

Election 2012: Steve Wagner

Collier County Tax Collector candidate.

* * * * *

Name: Steve Wagner

Born: Jan. 21, 1951

How long you've lived in your county: Since February 1993

Education: Bachelor's of Science in management from Hodges University in 1997

Family: Married, Veronica; daughter, Nichole

Party affiliation: Republican

Current position: Unemployed, resigned as area manager of driver license in Tax Collector's Office to run, as required by law.

Q. What is the first thing you would do if elected?

A. Expand tax collector services in the satellite offices, such as offering written and driving tests in Immokalee, Marco Island and Wilson Boulevard. I would open one Driver License Office for a half-day at no extra expense to taxpayers.

Q. What would you do to make the community a better place to live?

A. I would vastly improve customer service by implementing the above-mentioned items and I would create monthly community forums to educate the public on issues and to learn how to better serve the people. I would invite the media, citizens and other government agencies to attend. Issues such as the lack of enforcement of the Tourist Tax Collection would require the education and assistance from several sources available in the community.

Q. What makes you the most qualified for this position?

A. I am a retired U.S. Air Force veteran and have 15 years of service with the Tax Collector's Office. I know the operation from the ground up and have the leadership and management skills to move the office forward. Most importantly, I am not running for political self-interest. I believe every customer should be treated the same. I will provide great service to everyone equally.

Q. What distinguishes you from your opponent?

A. My opponent has made no changes for the past three years and is on record with the Naples Daily News as stating: "I am standing in front of the ball, and do not need to make any changes." I am very proactive and I realize change is always required. I will get involved with the Tax Collector Association, Driver License and Motor Vehicle coalitions in the state to ensure our county is up-to-date.

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