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Florida Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera defeats incumbent Miami-Dade property appraiser

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the popular state House Republican leader who pulled strings in Tallahassee to save the city of Miami from a $1.2 million tax burden on parking garages at the new Miami Marlins ballpark, was on his way to victory Tuesday night over Pedro J. Garcia to become Miami-Dade’s second elected property appraiser.

Lopez-Cantera, 38, pushed to victory by repeatedly bashing Garcia for not including foreclosures in the county’s massive $200 billion property tax roll, and for years of neglect in chasing down homestead-exemption fraud.

Reached by phone just before his victory party at the Doubletree Hotel near Miami International Airport Tuesday night, Lopez-Cantera congratulated Garcia for running a great campaign, then promised to be more inclusive and make his office and website friendlier to Dade residents hungering for property tax information.

“I think we were successful because of our message,” Lopez-Cantera said. “We’re going to change the culture of the department, and we’re going to hold everyone accountable. One of the goals is to reduce the number of appeals for 2013.”

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