• Orange County tax collector's representative pushes petition for partisan county races


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County's tax collector Scott Randolph wants to make county races partisan, and he wants to shorten the term for Orange County's mayor.
    Channel 9's Lori Brown learned that Randolph's spokesperson has been working on a petition drive. Brown asked Randolph if he thought the petition drive is appropriate.
    In his emailed response, Scott asked how Brown knew his spokesperson was recruiting signature gatherers at Monday night's Democratic executive meeting.
    Randolph is paid $151,000 a year to oversee the tax collector's office.
    He has been in a fight to keep the position. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs has suggested consolidating the office with the property appraiser's office. That would push Randolph out of the job.
    Now Randolph is fighting to get a measure on the ballot to make county elections partisan.
    Randolph is a Democrat. With nearly 100,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Orange County, the move would make it tougher for Jacobs and other Republicans to win county positions.
    Randolph's spokesperson said her recruiting of volunteers to gather petition signatures was done on her own time.
    Channel 9 political analyst Rick Foglesong said it still looks bad.
    "When someone in office runs for election, sometimes their employees will take a leave of absence, off the payroll, to join the campaign, but that's the point, they take a leave of absence in order to do that," said Foglesong.
    The political action committee Citizens for Informed Elections is running the petition drive.
    The PAC makes it difficult to see who is really behind the push for partisan elections.
    Behind two big national donors Randolph's PAC is the next largest donor. That PAC got its money from another Randolph PAC, which got its money from a Randolph committee.
    "He is acting in a partisan way. The voters in Orange County decided in the 1990s they didn't want that," said Foglesong.
    In an email to Channel 9 Randolph said "I have a political PAC, just like the mayor and many other elected officials. It supports both candidates and issues. Furthermore, what my employee does on her personal time is her own business."

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