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00000174-121d-d47e-a1f7-523d2c950000 WUSF News regularly collaborates with University of South Florida journalism classes in Tampa and St. Petersburg, providing students an opportunity to share their work with the greater Tampa Bay area.Some of the projects have included:“Past Plates” - a podcast and written stories produced in Spring 2017 that look into people’s memories and traditions related to food, food culture and food business in south St. Petersburg. In fall 2016, students profiled candidates running for Tampa Bay area elected offices. They were produced as part of the USF Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications' Advanced Reporting or Public Affairs classes; and as part of the Media and Elections class at USF St. Petersburg’s Journalism and Mass Communications Department.In 2015, WUSF journalists joined the USFSP Neighborhood News Bureau in creating oral histories of residents of St. Petersburg's historic Midtown neighborhood. That work was featured on WUSF's Florida Matters public affairs show.

Elections 2016: Hillsborough Property Appraiser Candidate Bob Henriquez

Bob Henriquez

Serving as Hillsborough County’s property appraiser is more than just a title or government position for Bob Henriquez. He says it’s a commitment to public service that has long been a tradition in his family.

Henriquez, a Democrat seeking re-election to the office he first was elected to four years ago, is a fifth-generation Hillsborough County resident. He has roots in Tampa dating back to when his great-grandfather, Enrique Hernandez, was the mayor of West Tampa before it became a part of the city of Tampa. 

Age: 52 Education: Princeton University Occupation: Property appraiser of Hillsborough County Political Experience: House of Representatives (1998-2006), Hillsborough County Property Appraiser (2012-2016)

While there is history in the Henriquez family with politics, he says it was hard for him and his family.

“My background is really sort of a humble beginning. My father was a contractor and house painter and I graduated from Tampa Catholic High School,” Henriquez said. “And I was the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college.”

Henriquez graduated from Princeton University with a degree in political science and spent four terms in the Florida House of Representatives. He also worked with Hillsborough County’s Streets and Addresses Department and the Department of Children and Families.

Henriquez’s contributions to the community weren’t solely with government, as he also served two stints as the head coach of the football team at Tampa Catholic, landing him the nickname of “Coach.” Henriquez valued his time with the Crusaders, saying his time working in the community is invaluable.

“It was my way of giving back, it was a blessing to have the opportunity to mentor young people and not just the (football) side of it, but working with people and giving back to Tampa Catholic, my alma mater,” Henriquez said.

The incumbent property appraiser, who faces Republican Todd Jones on Nov. 8, touts technology upgrades as his major accomplishment during his first term.

“I set about reinventing and reinvigorating the office and by that I mean moving the office into the 21st century with technology, reinventing with training and cross-training as well as work processes and making sure it’s efficient,” Henriquez said.

Henriquez said he has stayed true to his goal of helping his constituents by cutting costs and revamping the property appraiser’s office with more effective leadership and caring customer service.

Thomson Reuters Corp. nominated Henriquez for the “Excellence in Business Transformation” award, noting that Henriquez’s software upgrade saved thousands of dollars in assessment and property cost.

Henriquez has received endorsements from the Tampa Bay Times, as well as building associations across the Tampa Bay area.

He doesn’t look at his job as simply a task or demand, but rather he sees himself as fully invested in his passion for public service through the property appraiser position.

"It's the core of who I am,” Henriquez said. “I believe it’s far beyond just being an elected official.”

Tomas Benach is a student journalist attending the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications. This story was produced as part of the school’s Advanced Reporting or Public Affairs class this semester, under the leadership of instructors Wayne Garcia and Wendy Whitt.