The Phoenix Flyer

Appointed or elected officials? Voters will have a say

By: - September 12, 2018 12:13 pm

A cadre of elected officials, from sheriffs to tax collectors and supervisors of elections, launched a statewide initiative today to support Florida Constitutional Amendment 10, which will go before voters in the Nov. 6 election. The ballot measure proposes a provocative question:

Must those local officials be elected or appointed?

The group gathered on the back steps of Florida’s historic old Capitol in Tallahassee and was adamant that the officials should be elected by the people they serve. The Amendment 10 ballot language “ensures election of sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors and clerks of courts in all counties.”

The ballot language also references Florida counties that have a charter form of government. The language “removes county charters’ ability to abolish, change term, transfer duties, or eliminate election of these offices.”

Florida Sheriffs Association President Mark Hunter of Columbia County said voting is a right to be preserved, and that sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors and clerks of courts should not be appointed.

“We are the people’s choice,” Hunter said.

The group says that appointing officials would be less transparent and accountable to the public. Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart said a system that relies on local administrators making appointments is “vulnerable to abuse.”

When the idea was first being discussed by the Constitution Revision Commission, one Volusia County official predicted that the requirement that these local officials be elected could cost local taxpayers more money. She did not elaborate on the reasons. Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood today charged: “That is their scare tactic.”

The statewide initiative will continue its launch in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Amendment 10 also “bundles” other unrelated measures, such as requiring the Legislature to retain a department of Veteran’ Affairs and creating an office of domestic security and counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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