Sen. Perry Thurston and Dwight Forrester will challenge incumbent Tax Collector Abbey Ajayi. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FACEBOOK

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.–For the first time in history, voters will elect their Broward County Tax Collector in 2024.

For years, county commissioners or city managers appointed someone to the position but a 2018 Florida Constitutional amendment now requires elections for tax collectors, sheriffs, supervisor of elections, clerk of the courts and property appraisers in Florida’s 67 counties.

Residents approved the amendment to hold people accountable for their actions.

Current Broward County Tax Collector Abbey Ajayi for eight years is forced to run for elected office for the first time to keep her job.

She’s facing fellow Democrats, former state Sen. Perry Thurston Jr., and Dwight Forrest, a senior accountant for the Broward County Tax Collector’s Office.

The tax collector has responsibility to collect taxes for counties and school boards levied against homeowners and property owners, small municipalities, special taxing districts and tourist development taxes.

The tax collector office also handles vehicle registration.

Ajayi said a recent change in state law requires her position now be filled by a county-wide election.

”I am running for Tax Collector to put my eight years of experience running the Tax Collector’s Office and 30 years as a successful banking and financial services expert to work for the people of Broward County,” Ajayi said in a prepared statement.

Ajay previously served as the manager for the Broward County Tax Collectors office for five years, and helped build a financial advisory business of over $50 million during her stint in the banking and financial industry.

Thurston, a lawyer by trade, served in the state Senate from 2016 to 2022 and was elected designated Senate Minority Leader during his final term.

Thurston gave up his seat early when he unsuccessfully ran for a Congressional seat which was left open following the death of longtime Congressman Alcee Hastings who died from pancreatic cancer in 2021.

Thurston, who was born in Pompano Beach, also ran for attorney general for Florida but lost to George Sheldon in the Democratic Primary in 2014.

Thurston said he had a career in the banking and finance industry before he graduated from the University of Miami School of Law.

"A new law goes into effect in 2024 requiring Broward voters to elect their Tax Collector," Thurston said in a statement. "It’s a job responsible for many important community services from issuing license plates to collecting property taxes. And it’s a job that my years in government make me well qualified to do."

Jamaican-born Forrest has been a senior accountant with the Broward County Tax Collector Office for the past several years, according to his campaign website.

In 2014, Forres started working with Broward County as an accountant, and rose through the ranks to become a senior accountant. 

He said despite being told he did not qualify for a position, he enrolled in Barry University to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration and Public Accounting.

"As an experienced professional in the field of accounting and public administration, Dwight Forrest has the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the Broward County Tax Collector’s Office with competence and integrity," his campaign website provides. "His vast experience in managing budgets and ensuring compliance with accounting standards makes him the best choice for the position."

Ajayi, who said she’s more qualified for the position, has raised $37,000, including $17,000 she loaned to herself, accounting to campaign finance reports.

Thurston has raised $25,000 and Forrest has $590 in the bank.

The election is on August 20, 2024.