Wendy Renfro points to several ways she saved taxpayers money while on the School Board of Highlands County as examples why she's the best qualified to be the next Tax Collector.
She also says her varied experience in private business as well as being an elected official demonstrates her abilities as a public servant. As a co-owner of Highlands Aviation Inc., she's been in charge of the business end of the family operation and she spent 12 years on the school board before deciding to not run for re-election in 2006.
Why do you want to be Highlands County's next Tax Collector?
The first thing I did when the position came available was I looked up Florida statute and what the duties were for tax collector. I know I can fulfill those duties. I truly enjoyed serving the public as a school board member. I did self-imposed term limits because I don't believe anyone should camp out in an office. I did not seek re-election in 2006. When this came available I knew I still had a lot to offer. I truly enjoy working for the people.
What would the public notice about the office if you are elected?
I would definitely continue the public service with a smile. Mr. Bryan commanded that in his office. You need to have a partnership with the public and you need to listen to your employees and be an administrator to them. But you can do it in such a way that you feel everyone has input into how the office is being run.
Mr. Bryan took us into the 21st century as far as technology goes. You learn this by networking with other tax collectors. There is to be a transition plan to formulate the plan for local tax collectors to issue drivers licenses, and present it next February. It's imperative that whoever gets in there becomes a part of that transition plan. The state will still oversee it but the tax collector has to do it.
It's important to educate the people that we will take a loss when we take over issuing drivers licenses and what kind of documents you need to get one. I just went through it and it wasn't a pleasant process. I really had no idea what they would accept to renew my driver's license. I've known people who went down there three times and still couldn't get it.
How would you describe your management style?
The way Mr. Bryan had the staff set up, it was very efficient. Everybody knows their job. He believed in cross-training and it's important that you keep the lines of communication open. You need to have the strength to make decisions that are best for everyone. At the school board I asked a lot of questions. That made some people uncomfortable, but it was my duty to do as much homework as possible do make an educated decision. The only way to know all the nuances of what's going on in the office is to bring everyone together in an occasional meeting. You need open communication. That's my style. Keep that door open.
Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I have unique experience. I have private sector experience with my husband owning a business. I've have 12 years of experience going over a $112 million budget line by line with the school board. We did not get involved with day-to-day operations, but if the superintendent terminated somebody and they appealed it, we did handle the appeal.
One thing that I feel I stand above everybody else is that I got on the school board in 1994, in six months I was on the Florida School Boards Association board of directors. I was elected by five counties. Those five counties chose me to represent them. They immediately elected me to the chair of the legislative appropriations committee. The following year they elected me chair of the entire legislative committee. I had to track all legislation. As well as fulfilling all my duties at home, I had to do a lot of work in Tallahassee. I was able to network and keep ahead of the laws. I built a network up there. I think that's imperative to anyone in local office to be able to communicate with Tallahassee.