Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Wells said he hasn’t seen Channel 10’s “caught with his pants down” story, but he’s heard plenty about it.
And based on the conversations he’s had with voters at three polling locations so far today, it isn’t swaying their votes.
“Every single voter has been positive,” Wells said. “Either they say they are going to vote for me, or they just have.”
Still, any kind of negative publicity at the last minute is not a positive, Wells said.
Wells faces fellow Republican Walter Price in today's primary. The winner will go up against Democrat Allison Newlon in November.
The 10 News story paints a picture of a public official who is rarely in the office; and on the day the reporter showed up at his home, Wells answered in his boxers.
“I don’t typically run around my house in my underwear,” Wells said.
He had been working since 7 a.m., and had a terrible headache, something that has happened in the past— “once a year,” he said. He had instructions from his physician to take medication and go to bed when it happens. Wells had just taken the pills and gotten in bed when the doorbell rang.
“It was pure luck, I suppose,” Wells said. “I could’ve chased him off, but I didn’t. I figured let’s just talk about it and get it over with.”
And as for not putting 40 hours a week in at the office, Wells said that he is the most accessible public official in the county, providing his cell phone number to all taxpayers and instructing any calls that come into the office to be forwarded to him, even if he’s on vacation.
"That is very important to the public," Wells said. “I’ve been in elected office a long time. I work very hard to take care of the people of this county."
Wells said he runs one of the most efficient offices in the state with one of the lowest budgets in the state. Technology has made it possible for him to get out in the field rather than being confined to an office, he said.
When he was first elected, Wells said he was in the office “all day, every day.” Once technology improved and he had the right people in place, he began spending more time out canvassing neighborhoods and talking to residents.
Wells has a computer in his vehicle, and he often goes out to explore the neighborhoods of Pasco, “to see the community and touch it,” he said.
Getting to know the neighborhoods he’s responsible for assessing, and being accessible to taxpayers is more important than clocking time in an office, he said.
“If the requirement is for my vehicle to be parked in front of a government building 40 hours a week, that’s never gonna happen,” Wells said.
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