Nothing quiets critics quite like success.
Few Central Florida politicians have had more powerful critics — enemies in some cases — than Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh.
Few have been able to point out more successes in protecting tax dollars, as well.
Consequently, Singh, first elected in 2012 and then re-elected by a landslide in 2016, comes in as the 24th most powerful elected official in Florida Politics debut of its survey of Central Florida’s Most Powerful Politicians. He also is the only non-sheriff constitutional officer from any Central Florida county to make the list.
When he was first elected, Singh became the county’s first-ever state-certified appraiser to become county property appraiser. Vowing to bring more professional principals and technologies to the office and to aggressively pursue appraisals against some of the giant property holders in the county, Singh has celebrated a number of milestones, including his announcement in April that his reforms alone had added $1 billion to the tax roles and more than $50 million in new tax revenue.
Singh might have been someone groomed as a rising star in Democratic politics were he not so embattled with some of the most prominent corporate and political players in Central Florida. Most notably, the theme parks and International Drive interests have been furious and deeply objecting to his office’s assessments of their property values and the resulting tax increases they’ve had to face.
Singh would argue that not coincidentally, he also has been embattled with scandalous allegations, first that he had changed his name to hide a past, then that his Property Appraiser’s Office and his political campaign were bleeding with hostility, sexual harassment, and corruption.
He vigorously denied and fought against all the allegations. He has done the same against the litigation and official adjustments claims filed by the big property owners. A 99.5 percent victory rate at the Orange County Value Adjustment Board and a steady albeit expensive progression of successes in court battles have largely solidified him.
So has a landmark court victory that had nothing to do with his job as property appraiser. This spring, the Florida Supreme Court sided with Singh and Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph in their five-year legal battle to keep their offices partisan. Consequently, Singh’s future in his office now appears mostly dependent on his ability to defeat Republicans in a county in which Republican voters make up only about a quarter of the total electorate.
While he has vigorously defended his partisan standing in office, Singh also has not been shy about crossing party lines, showing up in silent support for some Republicans, including former Gov. Rick Scott, generally at events that should be non-partisan.