VOTER GUIDE | Duval Property Appraiser 

Published on February 9, 2023 at 3:58 pm

Three people are lined up for a shot at the Duval County Property Appraiser’s job: current Jacksonville City Council members Danny Becton and Joyce Morgan, and former Florida state Rep. Jason Fischer, who also previously served on the Duval County School Board. (Any candidate winning a majority of votes in the first election is elected; if no candidate wins a majority, then the general election in May will serve as a runoff between the top two winners regardless of party affiliation.) 

What does it take to be a property appraiser? According to the Florida Department of Revenue, simply put: property appraisers “establish the value of your property each year.” Their office reviews and applies exemptions, assessment limitations and classifications that may reduce a property’s taxable value.

Jacksonville Today thanks our sponsors. Become one.

Current Duval Property Appraiser Jerry Holland (now running for supervisor of elections, a position he’s held previously) says the only legal requirement to run for property appraiser is to be a registered voter and resident of the county, but ideal skills include being an experienced manager of people, with a staff of 110 in the office.

“You must motivate, educate and inspire employees to provide great service to the public,” Holland says. The property appraiser must also have a working understanding of budgets because the department’s budget is more than $10 million a year. And the property appraiser must be “an effective problem solver.” A real estate or appraisal background is “helpful,” he adds.

For Joyce Morgan, a former journalist who’s served two terms as the District 1 City Council member in Arlington, she says the more she’s been on the job, “the more you are able to handle anything that is put in front of you.”

Article continues below

Jacksonville Today thanks our sponsors. Become one.

“I can go into any kind of situation and deal with what’s there,” Morgan says. “Three years of my eight years (on council), I spent on the Value Adjustment Board. For two of those years, I was the chair of the board, dealing with both the property appraiser’s office as well as city staff and our city attorney that deals with all of these property issues.”

And for Becton, finishing his second term as the Southside’s District 11 Council member, he brings a long retail business career under his belt that includes founding a technology company that worked nationwide. That “really set up qualifications that are important,” he says, for the city job with a $12 million budget that manages the revenue assessment of 65% of the city’s $1.55 billion city budget, serving 385,000 parcels and 200,000 homestead exemptions.

“I am the only candidate in this race that has owned a small business for 28 years, managed people, payroll and budgets while serving the day-to-day operations of a company,” Becton says. “I have an extensive financial and data-driven background for which this office will demand.” 

Repeated emails and text messages to candidate Jason Fischer went unanswered, and his campaign website only has his image and a fundraising link.

Editor’s note: Candidate Q&As have been edited for brevity. Candidates are listed here in the order they appear on the ballot. 

Danny Becton, REP 

Becton | Courtesy campaign website

Danny Becton, a Republican, was president and founder of Planogramming Solutions Inc., from which he retired in 2019. Prior to his 2015 election to the City Council, he founded Better Baymeadows Inc., a public/private partnership with the FDOT. He also served on the Mayor’s Citizens Planning Advisory Committee for District 11, chairing its Growth Management and Transportation Committee as well as serving as vice-chair in 2014.

“I have a great deal of passion and experience and professional qualifications that are perfect for this executive position,” he says. “As property appraiser, I will be able to continue that public service to Jacksonville as a result of retiring from my 40-year private sector career, and I am able to continue my service of giving back, not because I have to, but because I want to.”

Becton and his wife Linda have two daughters.

Q: Why Are You Running?

A: I have a great deal of passion, experience and professional qualifications that are perfect for this executive position. As property appraiser, I am able to continue my public service to Jacksonville and as a result of retiring from my 40-year private sector career, I am able to continue my service, giving back, “not because I have to, but because I want to.”

Q: What are your qualifications to run?

A: In 1992, upon seeing an opportunity, I founded my company Planogramming Solutions, Inc. as an outsourcing solution for retail companies across this country, even expanding internationally based on the delivery of this technology. It was companies like Harvey’s Supermarkets, Whole Foods and Earthfare to name a few, that I was blessed to have had a 28-year career as a leading expert on the analysis of financial performance and analytics for the impact of return on investment of retail shelf space for my clients.

The Property Appraiser’s office is an important department of our city government with a staff of 110+ members and a $12 million dollar budget. I have an extensive financial and data-driven background for which this office will demand and as a technology-driven function of our government. I have been an IT professional for over 30+ years. I own both residential and commercial property for which these properties help me understand the process of appraisals and their evaluations and how the property appraiser’s role is quite different under these separate circumstances and evaluations.

Q: How will your previous civic and elected representative experience help you if elected?

A: As the City Council Member for District 11 over the past eight years, I have gained a wealth of experience in understanding the role and need that this very important department of our government commands. I have served on the Value Adjustment Board for 5 years, chairing it once, providing for a critical understanding of the appeal process and decisions that are made accordingly. In my term, I have also worked to become a subject matter expert on Land Use and Zoning. In this role, it provides me with a constant need to utilize and experience the city’s systems, including the GIS system and the Property Appraiser’s portal, on a routine basis. In my eight years on City Council, it has been through my work ethic and attention to detail that I have been recognized for my thoroughness on research and analysis, while being recognized in 2016-2017, my second year on City Council, with the City Council’s highest honor, the Charles D. Webb Award, by then Council President Lori Boyer.

Q: What issues do you foresee in the appraiser’s office that might need addressing?:

A: During the next term of the property appraiser, the following areas of need must be addressed: 1) The Property Appraiser’s Office requires the implementation of a major software upgrade for their main software system, which is over 20-year-old. This system is at its life cycle end and must be replaced in the next term. 2) Continuing the work of current Property Appraiser Jerry Holland in reducing and eliminating improper homestead exemptions and other fraud and abuse. Over the past two terms, there has been over $60 million dollars of taxable value placed back on the city’s books, translating to over $18 million of tax revenue. 3) Managing a $12 million dollar budget and a team of 110+ staff member professionals in keeping up with the growth of Jacksonville with the requirement that every parcel in the county which is nearing 400,000, must be inspected every 5 years. To not just grow government in the performance of these services but to use technology in doing the appraisal job smarter, faster and more accurately.

Q: Is the current economic situation going to affect the way the Property Appraiser’s Office operates?

A: It is the property appraiser’s responsibility to accurately determine and update the constantly changing property values of our residential and commercial properties. As property values have soared over the past few years, it is expected that property values will decline as our economy sees the head-winds of rising interest rates, inflation, along with the slow-down for demand for housing. It will be our residents’ expectations that these values be adjusted just as fast in the decline phase as they were when values were increasing. Property taxes are paid on these market valuations, and it should be the Property Appraiser’s priority to always strive to assess property owners “Fairly and Accurately” and serve the needs of the citizens of Jacksonville in a “High Standard for Customer Service.”

Jason Fischer, REP

Fischer | Courtesy campaign website

Jason Fischer is a Jacksonville native who worked for Florida Power & Light and CSX Transportation and was a civilian engineer with the U.S. Navy. A former member of the Florida House of Representatives representing part of Jacksonville, he was in office from 2016 to 2022. He announced a run for Florida’s newly drawn 4th Congressional District before dropping out last year to campaign for property appraiser. He has been endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to his campaign website. (Editor’s note: Jacksonville Today is working to independently verify this endorsement with the governor’s office.)

Fischer also previously served on the Duval County School Board. According to a legislative bio, he is married with three young children. 

Fischer did not respond to repeated requests for an interview for this story. 

Joyce Morgan, DEM

Morgan | Courtesy campaign website

Joyce Morgan has lived in Jacksonville for more than 30 years and was formerly a news anchor on News4Jax and The CW. She has also worked as a freelance consultant for the North Florida TPO, served as Ft. Caroline Elementary PTA president, and has organized life skills workshops for the PACE Center for Girls and Women Business Owners events.

First elected in 2015 to serve District 1 in Arlington, Morgan is leading a City Council initiative called “Safer Together” that brings together community and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office members. She also represents the Jacksonville City Council on the Florida Association of Counties Board of Directors.

Morgan says she is in the race is because “a person like me” is what is needed in the job. 

“This is fresh, this is new, and quite frankly, it’s historic. It’s never happened in Jacksonville that anyone of my gender or my racial diversity has even looked at a position like this,” she says. 

She is married to Richard Danford Jr., CEO of the Jacksonville Urban League, and they have three children. 

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running to help raise awareness to the role, the importance, and the impact of the Property Appraiser’s Office in ALL communities. This also allows me to continue my role as a public servant and to be able to provide opportunities for increased dialogue with taxpayers about their rights and possible exemptions.

Q: What are your qualifications to run?

A: I am a very unique individual with an extremely diverse background. From banking to insurance to sales and the media, I work consistently and diligently for the community without regard to race, ethnic background, gender, or political persuasion. I am a leader with very strong communication and research skills who has worked in a variety of positions, including management, customer service, and payroll. I have served with distinction on the Jacksonville City Council. I have been a liaison and a member on the Value Adjustment Board for three years, serving as Chair for two of those years where commercial and personal property owners have a chance to dispute the amount of taxes they must pay.

Q: How will your previous civic and elected representative experience help you if elected?

A: I have maintained a very high level of accessibility, visibility, and transparency through my District 1 Town Hall meetings, which I have conducted monthly. I plan to further increase the community outreach the Property Appraiser’s Office does using a similar model. I have led numerous community organizations and initiatives and have strong transferable skills to bring to the position and know how to leverage partnerships with the business and non-profit community to create positive outcomes. My time as the chair on the Value Adjustment Board is also a critical component of my experience with the Property Appraiser’s Office, as well as general experience as a homeowner who has used the services of our property appraiser’s website.

Q: What issues do you foresee in the appraiser’s office that might need addressing?

A: Continue investigating exemption fraud to assure proper exemptions go to the appropriate taxpayers. Future technology upgrades of the systems needed to sustain the office. Continued Employee Professional Development to assure successful employees and a successful office for taxpayers.

Q: Is the current economic situation going to affect the way the Property Appraiser’s Office operates?

A: It should not have an impact. The office, like every other city department, must submit its budget to the Mayor’s office for approval. The role of the Property Appraiser centers around adhering strictly to state statute and getting out the tax roll out on time. Of course, if the City Council were to reduce or increase the millage rate, again, the Property Appraiser’s office has to follow the law and assess the property values accordingly. As the Property Appraiser, and part of community outreach, I would want to help disseminate information to taxpayers about possible help in the community including that of LISC, if they need assistance.

Corrected: This guide originally said the property appraiser’s office sends tax bills after assessing the value of property, but bills come from the tax collector’s office. This story was also updated to clarify that more than $10 million budget is the size of the property appraiser’s office operating budget, not the amount of property tax revenue that is coming in.

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.