In the night's widest local margin, Abe Skinner wins Collier Appraiser in Rick Lussy rematch
Abe Skinner's win streak is intact.
Skinner defeated opponent R.C. "Rick" Lussy in a rematch of their 2016 clash to lead the Collier County Property Appraiser's office.
With no Democratic challengers, he won the four-year term outright Tuesday night.
In the night's widest margin in a Collier candidates race, Skinner received 58,488 votes, or 78.7%, compared to Lussy, who received 15,813 votes, or 21.3%.
"I'm very thankful to the people of Collier County for their confidence in me and the way I run the office," Skinner said. "I instill in my office staff, that even though I'm their boss, we work for the people of Collier County. They are our boss. We always want to put them first."
The Property Appraiser's Office is responsible for determining all real and tangible personal property for taxing purposes.
It also handles homestead exemptions and mobile home and agriculture classifications for tax purposes. In addition, the agency maintains a publicly searchable database of all properties in the county.
Skinner has been the county's property appraiser since 1991, joining the staff as a 32-year-old in 1962 when teenagers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards formed the Rolling Stones.
Asked if he'd be running again in the future and talking with this reporter four years from now, the 89-year-old laughed as he said, "if I know where the heck I am.
"You were very diplomatic on that question. Like I told you before, retirement is an ugly word. I have a great crew that makes me look good," he said. "I just love what I do. I'm a very lucky person to have found my niche in life early."
Regardless of the final total, it was going to be a quieter night for Skinner than past years, thanks to the pandemic.
"Last time we had a party," he said. "You just have to be careful these days."
Lussy said the election results made no sense to him, as he touted 47 years in the private sector versus Skinner's government career.
"I have been a commercial and extraordinary property appraiser all my life," Lussy said.
Previously, he has said Skinner may have "reduced alertness" and not have the "fitness" for the $147,293-a-year job.
Going into Tuesday's election, Lussy had seven straight election losses between Collier and Martin counties.
Skinner dominated the previous race between the pair, with 86% of the vote, the century's biggest blowout in a head-to-head primary for a Collier County government post.
It also topped the September 1998 School Board results of Anne Goodnight's 79% against Yolanda Cisneros, according to Collier elections office records.
The state has seen folks older than Skinner hold office, and he's heard it all before. Born in Fort Myers, he said that "younger is not always better."
In guiding his 64-member staff "a long way from the pencil and the paper" era, he has said he's done it with "proven appraisal experience, managerial and leadership" skills.
"I personally do not play golf. I don't fish. I don't hunt anymore. This is my life, the property appraiser's office."
Lussy, who has said he's "in the prime of his life" and marked his 70th birthday in July, has been trying to get elected as a county appraiser since 1992. In his most recent attempt in Martin County, his sixth loss, his opponent had nearly 90% of the vote.
Based at the Naples Daily News, Columnist Phil Fernandez (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes for the USA TODAY NETWORK. Support Democracy and subscribe to a newspaper.