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Sarasota County Tax Collector: Barbara Ford-Coates

The incumbent Ford-Coates will face Jim Bender in the general election.

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  • | 5:40 a.m. October 21, 2016
  • Sarasota
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Age: 68

Hometown: Ripplemead, Va.; Sarasota, Fl.

Political Party: Democrat

About: Barbara Ford-Coates graduated from the College of William and Mary.  She has been Tax Collector since 1984 and was on the 1998 Florida Constitution Revision Commission.  In 2008 she was the Outstanding Tax Collector in the United States and this year Thomson Reuters selected her from 1,000 international nominees for Excellence in Leadership.

Her community activities include the League of Women Voters, Community Foundation and Girl Scout Leader.  During the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, Ford-Coates was named one of 100 “Girl Scout Greats” in the United States.

She is married to Brian Ford-Coates, and they have seven daughters and 10 grandchildren.

What qualifies you for this charter position? 

I have 32 years of experience as Tax Collector, plus nine years as a staff member. 

In that time, this office has become a leader in Florida with innovative programs such as issuance of drivers’ licenses and e-Billing.  That has been accomplished efficiently and effectively at the lowest possible cost.  Under my leadership, I look forward to continuing to make paying taxes as painless as possible. 

If elected, what would be your top three priorities after you are sworn in? 

  • Complete the new Mid County Office where my staff can continue to provide efficient and exceptional service while maintaining low costs.
  • Continue to assist the Florida Department of Highway & Motor Vehicles by piloting, and improving, new processes.
  • Continue to monitor and improve driver’s license procedures, both in the office and at the state level.

How would you make the department more efficient? 

I will continue to listen to staff and customers to gain new perspectives and ideas.  Every question, complaint or compliment gives me a chance to evaluate what we are doing. Each day I look forward to asking, “ Is there a better way?”

Why do you think voters should keep you in office?

My record speaks for itself.  While maintaining one of the lowest cost per taxpayer budgets among Florida Tax Collectors, we are also known for exceptional customer service as indicated by actual comments from our customers:

  • “This is the finest DMV operation in the nation! Bar None!”     
  • “Whole staff does excellent job. Shows good leadership.”      


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