As the Florida 2018 elections draw near, now is the time to learn more about the amendments on the November ballot. Amendment 10 is especially important as it provides critical protections for our veterans, our right to vote, and our overall public safety.
Known as the Protection Amendment, Amendment 10 ensures you will always be able to elect all constitutional officers in your county. In turn, constitutional officers guarantee accountability to report directly to you, our constituents.
Amendment 10 also protects Florida’s 1.5 million military members and their families by preserving the structure and governance of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This is a promise to our veterans that they will be cared for during and after their service to our country, secure from political influences. And, the Protection Amendment creates the Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within FDLE to help protect Florida from acts of terrorism.
Constitutional officers are public trustees who protect public funds, communities, and our way of life. For example, the 66 elected Sheriffs achieved a 47-year low crime rate statewide; Court Clerks and Comptrollers safeguard over $13 billion in county funds; Tax Collectors annually collect nearly $30 billion that gets reinvested back into Florida; and Property Appraisers deliver $9.2 billion to our children’s public schools.
We collectively protect and serve 21 million Floridians and 116 million visitors, as well as manage billions of dollars of your money, so why wouldn’t you want us to be fully accountable to you, the people?
Voting yes on Amendment 10 is particularly historic for residents in counties where voters cannot vote for the civil servants who safeguard their families and perform a wide range of services, record keeping, information and financial management for communities. In Miami-Dade, for example, it has been an unprecedented 50 years since a resident has been able to vote for their Sheriff, or other constitutional officers.
After more than two generations of not being allowed to elect their sheriff, in a statewide survey conducted earlier this year, 76% of Miami-Dade County voters agree that sheriff and property appraiser should be independent and elected by county residents–not appointed. This belief should come as no surprise. If you don’t like the way your sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, clerk of courts, or supervisor of elections is running their office, you should have the right to demand change. Amendment 10 establishes this system of accountability for all Floridians.
Finally, Amendment 10 safeguards that the concept of home rule is not abused in any county and that the “home” is ruled by its citizens with transparency and accountability. For example, in a charter county, if the county manager or board needs more money for their budget, they can tell the property appraiser to increase property rates, whether it is justified or not. Because in this flawed system the property appraiser is appointed; there is no separation of powers. The property appraiser is simply an employee who must comply, whether it is the right thing to do or not. Amendment 10 will ensure this abuse of powers cannot happen.
Florida TaxWatch has also announced its full support of Amendment 10. As an independent, nonpartisan government watchdog for more than one third of a century, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the accountability of Florida government.
Having locally elected, independent and accountable constitutional officers protects the community’s ability to determine who will serve as the officials who have a direct impact on all our lives. You should be the one who makes sure the officers in your county are serving you—instead of doing what a county board or manager is pressuring them to do.
Amendment 10 will continue Florida’s long history of being controlled by the voters. It protects citizens by preventing counties from abolishing any of your constitutional offices, ensuring the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is fully empowered to support Florida veterans, improving state budgeting, and creating the Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism. Amendment 10 does all this without increasing the size of government or increasing taxes.
When you get your ballot, go straight to Amendment 10 and vote yes – it is that important. No matter the political party, we all agree a yes vote on Amendment 10 is the right choice.
FSA President and Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter on behalf of Florida’s 66 elected Sheriffs, as well as all of Florida’s elected Tax Collectors, Clerks of the Courts, and Property Appraisers.