by Mitch Perry
Eight and a half hours later, an equally large coterie of the Hillsborough County political establishment (including Alex Sink, Hillsborough County Commission Chair Ken Hagan, and most of the Tampa City Council) crammed into the Ybor City offices of the lobbying firm Floridian Partners, to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in Hillsborough county local government.
"My head's spinning," the 48-year-old Henriquez admitted to CL as well wishers consumed adult beverages to celebrate his first day on the job. "It's been a great day. An emotional day in many ways. I'm just so blessed. I'm just so happy to be here," he said looking around at all of those who had attended. "Heavyweights ... It's really amazing."
Last November, Henriquez defeated former GOP state Senator and County Commissioner Ronda Storms. The seat became open for the first time in 16 years after longtime property appraiser Rob Turner's job ended when he admitted to sending pornographic text and email messages to a former girlfriend and employee of the office.
Earlier that day, Henriquez met with the rank and file workers of the property appraiser's office for the first time, and he said it enabled him to get an overall sense of the office environment.
"I had a chance to meet all the unclassified and the leadership people and all those types of folks. So that was job one today. Meet those folks, set them at ease, let them see who I am a little bit, let them know about my leadership style and where we're headed," he said.
The most immediate job that the former Democratic House member (1998-2006) said he has to do is put out a tax roll that will be approved by the state's Department of Revenue by July 1.
Henriquez said the next most important step is creating a strategic plan for the property appraiser's office within the next 6-8 months so he can evaluate all of the departments inside the office. He's also concerned that roughly 30 percent of the staff is expected to enter into the state's DROP program throughout the next four years, "so we have to really tee up some folks that are willing to take the next step to become managers or to move into different types of roles."
As he mentioned frequently during the campaign, he also wants to make improvements on information technology and customer service (including revamping the agency's website).
All in all it was a banner election for Hillsborough Democrats in 2012. Barack Obama easily took the county over Mitt Romney, while other victorious members of the party like County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer also made the rounds.