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 for Floridians, as it provides critical protections for our veterans, our voting rights, and our overall public safety.

Known as the Protection Amendment, Amendment 10 ensures you elect all constitutional officers in your county. In turn, constitutional officers guarantee accountability to report directly to you, our constituents.

Amendment 10 also protects the structure and governance of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs to support the changing needs of Florida’s 1.5 million military members and their families. 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 fight terrorism here in Florida.

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 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 had a say in who serves as their Sheriff.

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.

Florida TaxWatch has just 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 effect on their lives. You should be the one who makes sure the officers in your county are serving you—not 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.

Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association and Army veteran; Martin County Clerk of Court and Comptroller Carolyn Timmann, CRC Commissioner; Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart, Former Police Chief and Air Force veteran