Noelle Branning, Rob Stoneburner elected without opposition
Noelle Branning Photo By Brian Tietz

Noelle Branning crop
Lee and Collier counties see seamless transitions in Tax Collector offices.

Southwest Florida will soon see two new officials become county Tax Collectors, and neither had to win an election.

Noelle Branning, now the Deputy Lee County Tax Collector, will succeed Larry Hart in the office. Meanwhile, Deputy Collier County Tax Collector Rob Stoneburner takes over from his boss, Larry Ray.

Both Republicans, neither Tax Collector-elect expected to win without opposition.

“Not at all,” said Branning of the prospect.

Stoneburner said he certainly expects whenever a constitutional office is up for grabs for it to attract a crowd of candidates.

“But this is a weird year,,” he said, acknowledging a pandemic and economy that turned people’s attention away from local politics.

Stoneburner has worked in the Collier office for the past 11 years and as Deputy Tax Collector for the past nine. He suggests there won’t be a huge disruption in business.

“In the Tax Collector’s Office, you carry out policy,” he said. “It’s dictated by statute and I’m a pretty good rule follower.”

He does anticipate efforts to keep the office on the “bleeding edge” of technology and always wants ways to create conveniences for citizens.

Branning said technology will be a major focus when she takes over. The office ion recent years has expanded the use of automatic kiosks in its locations. She’d like to take those machines in more public spaces like grocery stores.

“We want to try and get to our customers,” she said. Ideally, a citizen can accomplish errands like licensing without disrupting their personal lives.

Neither comes into an elected post as a complete stranger to politics. Branning remains active in a number of women’s Republican clubs in Lee County and Stoneburner held elected office before as a Fire Commissioner.

Stoneburner isn’t anxious to become a major power player, though, and will focus on public service.

Branning expects to further involvement. “But to think if I could be as active as Mr. Hart, I don’t think any could say that,” she said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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