In a major win for the politically powerful Florida Sheriff’s Association, the largest law enforcement agency in the state of Florida will soon be led by an elected sheriff, thanks to the passage of Amendment 10.
Currently, the Miami-Dade County Police Department is headed by a police chief, who is appointed by the county mayor.
In 2024, every county in the state will be required to elect five specific local offices: Sheriffs, clerks of court, tax collectors, property appraisers and supervisors of elections. Currently, Miami-Dade, Broward and Volusia are the only counties that would be affected.
Miami-Dade doesn’t have an elected sheriff, tax collector or supervisor of elections; Broward doesn’t have an elected tax collector; Volusia County’s government elects most county officers but limits the scope of their independence in a way that would be impacted by the change.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez was vehemently against the passage of Amendment 10, saying it struck a major blow to local control of charter governments, otherwise known as “home rule.”
“If the people of Miami Dade County wanted an elected sheriff, the people of Miami Dade County could certainly ... put it on the ballot themselves and change the charter of Miami Dade County,” he told WLRN. As an example, Miami-Dade voters moved to make the property appraiser’s office an elected position -- and it has been, since 2008.
The Florida Sheriff’s Association pushed Amendment 10, and framed the issue as a matter of voters’ rights.
"Sheriffs all over Florida are pleased citizens took the time to learn about Amendment 10 and voted in favor of protecting their right to elect their constitutional officers. Sheriffs, and the other constitutional officers, had faith voters would make the correct choice by protecting their right to vote," Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter, the group's current president, said in a statement. "Together, we have made history. Florida will now have elected and independent constitutional officers in all 67 counties—this is a great day for transparency and accountability.”
“We don’t want to see anyone abuse the home rule, to take away their citizen’s right to vote,” Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson, a former president of the group, told WLRN. “That should not be allowed to happen.”
The relevant part of Amendment 10 goes into effect for most counties in 2021. For Miami-Dade and Broward, it goes into effect in 2024.
Also “bundled” into Amendment 10 were three other questions. The passage of the ballot item means a Department of Veterans’ Affairs and a state anti-terrorism office will now be written into the constitution. Also, the Amendment will make state legislative sessions start two months earlier on even numbered years.