I was born June 6, 1941 in New York City. The Havill family has always been conservative Republicans. My older sister got me involved in working for Republican candidates when I was 13, and I have been involved with politics ever since. My father passed away when I was 14 and that was when I promised God that I wouldn’t waste the life that He gave me. My mother, my younger brother and I then moved to Buffalo, where I attended an all-boy’s Catholic high school. I always had a job to help make a little extra money, whether it was shoveling snow off neighbors’ driveways, setting up pins in a bowling alley, or carrying groceries home for customers.
After graduating high school, I enlisted in the US Army, where I was assigned to the Guided Missile Command in Huntsville, Alabama. In basic training I was offered the chance to go to Officer Candidate School, but I declined—I didn’t want to give up my dreams of going to college.
I married in 1961, and over the years we had three children—Kyle, Leah, and Jennifer. After the Army, I moved my family to California to be closer to my older sister and her husband. After 4 years and 10 months of attending school in the evenings and working full time during the day, I successfully completed requirements for two Bachelor’s degrees (mechanical and electrical engineering). Next, we moved to Winter Park, where I worked for Martin Marietta as an engineer, moving up into engineer management over time. I attended Rollins College at night, and after 9 months I received my Master’s degree in Commercial Science.
I completed real estate and appraisal courses and became a real estate broker. I decided to start my own business and moved to beautiful Lake County to get out of the “big city” of Orlando.
In the 1970s I was elected for two consecutive terms as president of The Florida Federation of Young Republicans. At our State Conference in 1975 I was honored to have Ronald Reagan as our guest speaker.
In 1976 I ran for Lake County Property Appraiser and won by 281 votes out of 30,000, and became the first and only Republican Property Appraiser Lake County has ever elected to represent the taxpayers. Since being elected as Property Appraiser, I have well over 1,000 additional hours of appraisal courses and multiple appraisal designations. I have won re-election 9 times.
At one time I wrote an appraisal column for the Eustis News.
I headed up the statewide petition drive known as Proposition 1 to put a cap on property taxes in Florida. We collected enough petitions to get the issue on the ballot, but were sued, and the Supreme Court removed it from the ballot before taxpayers could vote on it.
After a few forgettable years of being single, I had one of the happiest days of my life and married my wife Donna in May of 1987. I became a stepfather to her daughter, Ashley. Donna and I have since been blessed with two daughters, Amanda and Kaitlyn, rounding out the family with a total of one son and five daughters. I also have a 2 grandsons and a granddaughter.
In 2006, my eldest daughter Leah passed away. This is the first campaign she has not helped with. All of my children have grown up being a part of the campaign process each time I ran for re-election. I have never used a consultant—my son, Kyle, has been helping manage my campaigns since he was 9 years old. He is active in political campaigns in Orange County and has also helped some of our local candidates. In his “day job” he is responsible for Guest Relations and guest satisfaction surveys for Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn, and all the other Darden restaurants. Kyle and his wife Susan live in Orlando and have three children.
Jennifer is busy being wife, mom and a part-time teacher. Ashley moved to Tampa and is enjoying a new career. Amanda married last summer and is finishing up her Master’s in Psychology at UCF. Our youngest daughter, Katie, is at the University of Florida majoring in biology (pre-Vet). Donna and I are now the “zoo keepers” for her pets—2 horses, 3 cats and 3 dogs. We live in Mount Dora.
I am running for my 10th term as your Property Appraiser.