Amendment 10

State and Local Government Structure and Operation

Miami-Dade is squarely in the crosshairs of Amendment 10, which would require us to elect, rather than appoint, a county sheriff (thanks to reader Arun Ravindran for the question). The county actually sued over this amendment, saying it violates our right to govern ourselves, aka home rule.

The amendment, which originated with the Constitution Revision Commission, reads:

Requires legislature to retain department of veterans’ affairs. 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. Changes annual legislative session commencement date in even-numbered years from March to January; removes legislature’s authorization to fix another date. Creates office of domestic security and counterterrorism within department of law enforcement.

Miami-Dade County is the only county in the state with an appointed sheriff, rather than an elected one. The amendment above has many parts, but this is the part that affects us here, because most of those other positions were abolished long ago and folded into the county manager position.

Miami-Dade eliminated the elected sheriff position 40 years ago in a referendum, amid allegations of rampant corruption against the then-sheriff. The sheriff has been appointed by the county since then.

Supporters of the amendment say that making it an elected position once again would improve accountability and give the sheriff more independence from other officials. Opponents say that it’s an infringement on local governments’ rights and that it could lead to less qualified individuals taking the powerful seat.

The local government argument is particularly strong in South Florida because local governments here are often at odds with the state government and have had to battle over state preemption on progressive issues like plastic bag bans and living wage requirements (Tallahassee has blocked all of that). Many locals are concerned about anything that gives Tallahassee even more influence over how South Florida governs itself.

And as far as the other parts of this amendment go, a department of veterans’ affairs already exists, so this amendment wouldn’t really change that at all. And the department of law enforcement already handles domestic security and counterterrorism, so this wouldn’t change a ton about that, either.

If you vote yes, you are agreeing to change Miami-Dade County’s process for selecting a sheriff, from appointment to election.

If you vote no, you are expressing a preference for Miami-Dade County to continue to appoint its sheriff.