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As Doug Belden announces retirement, April Griffin will run for Hillsborough County Tax Collector

Griffin previously served 12 years on the School Board.

Former Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin plans to run for Tax Collector.

Griffin’s announcement on Facebook Tuesday night came after she was outed by the Ybor-based publication La Gaceta.

Patrick Manteiga reported yesterday that he heard I was running for Tax Collector. My phone has not stopped ringing since,” Griffin wrote. “Patrick Manteiga heard it right. I will be formally filing to run for Hillsborough County Tax Collector on November 4, 2019.”

Griffin’s news came just hours before incumbent Tax Collector Doug Belden told his employees that because of declining health, he was suspending his reelection bid.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday Belden is struggling with a neurological disease called CIDP, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. It’s a degenerative disorder he said would not get better.

That leaves Griffin the only candidate seeking the seat so far.

Griffin didn’t know Belden was going to suspend his campaign when she decided to run. Griffin said she was approached about running about a month ago and initially said “no.”

“It was realizing that if he stepped down the Governor would appoint someone,” Griffin said. “That was really the tipping point.”

If Belden, a Republican, left office in the middle of a term, Gov. Ron DeSantis would appoint someone to serve out the rest of his term. That person would likely be a Republican. Griffin is a Democrat.

While Griffin won’t officially file for the race until November, she’s already setting the process in motion. This week, Griffin resigned her position as director of Human Resources for the Hillsborough County Public Defender’s office but said she would stay on to create a transition plan.

Belden’s decision was not expected. He had already raised more than $200,000 for his reelection bid for a sixth term in office.

Griffin can’t raise funds until she files for the race, but she said she has already gotten some pledges of support.

While she’s the only name in the race so far, Griffin said she expects more candidates to enter now that Belden announced he would be retiring.

Griffin served 12 years on the Hillsborough County School Board, some of which were tumultuous. Griffin spearheaded efforts to fire former Superintendent MaryEllen Elia in early 2015.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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