In America, we believe in the power of the people to set the course of our country. The people vote for the leaders who represent the ideas they believe in. The power we hold in elected office is only on loan to us from the people.
That’s how it should work in Volusia County. But the secret in Volusia County government is that your vote for a constitutional officer doesn’t really mean that much.
Volusia County’s elected officials like sheriff, property appraiser, clerk of the court and supervisor of elections are actually just “department heads” who answer to an all-powerful County Manager. When’s the last time you voted for a County Manager? Never. The County Manager NEVER has to answer to you.
This election year, we have a chance to fix this with Amendment 10. It’s known as “The Protection Amendment” because among other things, it protects our right to vote and puts power back into the hands of the people. Here’s what you’ll see on your ballot. Amendment 10 “ensures election of sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, and clerks of court in all counties; removes county charters’ ability to abolish, change term, transfer duties, or eliminate election of these offices.”
Volusia County could be Exhibit A of what happens when county charters “transfer duties” from elected officials. The County Manager controls everything, including the Sheriff’s Office. Whether that means hiring and firing employees, setting their work schedules, approving deployment of technology and basic crime prevention initiatives – every power of sheriff has been transferred over to an unelected county manager who never has to go out and earn your vote.
You can call me Sheriff Chitwood, but the truth is I’m just another department head who answers to the manager. I don’t think Volusia County voters ever imagined so much power would be consolidated in the hands of one manager. I don’t think they know when they vote for a constitutional officer, they’re really only voting on a new department head for the county manager to direct.
The Volusia County Charter was approved almost a half-century ago, and less than 17,000 people voted for it. We have more than 500,000 people living in our county today. The charter isn’t going anywhere, but we shouldn’t be afraid to fix its problems. Amendment 10 isn’t a threat to home rule. In fact, Amendment 10 protects our charter government from the threat of corruption, abuse and the consolidation of power we’re faced with today. It puts power in the hands of the people where it belongs, and it ensures our home county is ruled by its citizens. I’m proud to join all of my fellow Florida sheriffs and other constitutional officers in strongly supporting Amendment 10.
Amendment 10’s other changes to government structure include protecting our veterans by preserving a state Department of Veterans Affairs, protecting our families by creating an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism, and improving state and county budgeting by requiring the Legislature to start its session earlier every other year. These are all good changes that will strengthen our county and state.
In the end, my argument for Amendment 10 has been the same everywhere I go: Just let the people vote, and let their vote count. That’s what America is about.
|Date||October 30, 2018|
|Filed Under||Elected Officials|