Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores becomes first neighborhood association in Sarasota to endorse proposed clean water amendment to Florida Constitution

Volunteers needed for variety of efforts to get the measure on November 2024 General Election ballot

The Indian Beach – Sapphire Shores Neighborhood Association (IBSSA) has become the first such organization in Sarasota County to endorse the proposed nonpartisan, state constitutional amendment for the Florida right to clean and healthy waters, proponents of the amendment have announced.

During the neighborhood association’s semi-annual meeting on May 9, a discussion of the initiative was presented for the second time, a news release says. President Joanne Gonet noted that the IBSSA board of directors would take an official vote of support for the amendment. “Many members attending the meeting of the association signed petitions and took packets of blank petitions to recruit signatures from other voters,” the release added.

Two ambassadors for the clean water initiative, Monica Balicki and Kafi Benz, were gathering signed petitions at the meeting and distributing yard signs for strategic locations, the release points out. A former director of IBSSA who served for more than 16 years, Benz was featured on the agenda to explain the proposal to neighbors who were not familiar with the details, nor its current progress, and to report for a second time this year on the progress of the initiative.

“A team of ambassadors for each of the 67 Florida counties is being expanded,” the release adds. So far Sarasota has nine ambassadors who have volunteered for various activities, including gathering signatures at public venues, attending meetings where they may gather signatures, seeking others to become ambassadors, encouraging residents in the community to participate in the effort, seeking strategic locations for yard signs, making speaking arrangements in the community, and locating potential locations for distribution and submission of petitions at “petition stations.”

Jesse White, an IBSSA resident and owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage — which is located at 1093 Central Ave. in downtown Sarasota — has committed to hosting the first “petition station,” where blank petitions may be signed and submitted, the release explains. Previously, signed petitions needed to be mailed to the campaign headquarters in Fort Myers — as noted on each petition. However, the release continues, since the petitions must be submitted to the supervisor of elections office in the home county of the voter signing the petition, several ambassadors in each county also are authorized to submit petitions destined for each county. They pass along to the appropriate ambassadors the petitions gathered from voters in other counties, the release adds.

Thus, the release points out, local gathering is being combined with the sorting and submitting of petitions, to eliminate the additional steps of mailing and redistribution. “This is an example of an activity for ambassadors who are not able to participate in the gathering at public venues, associations, clubs, and farmers markets,” the release notes. Depending on time available and special skills, “many necessary activities” can be achieved by other volunteers, the release says.

Supporting organizations are being listed on the site for the initiative,, the release notes. Among them are the Florida League of Women Voters, the County of Alachua (by resolution), Florida Veterans for Common Sense, CONA (Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations), and many Waterkeeper organizations. The long list “is growing constantly,” the release points out.

On its homepage, the amendment website says, “This is a #WatershedMoment. We can make this happen.

“With your help, we can bring this initiative to amend Florida’s Constitution to the voters in November 2024, so the PEOPLE can decide whether we should hold our State agencies accountable for harm to Florida’s waters.”

Further, the website points out, “It has become clear that the current system of water protection has failed; the state executive branch is not enforcing clean water legislation according to environmental laws, legislative intent and constitutional policy. Although a right to clean water already exists by statute, it defers too much to state executive agencies to guard against harm. The proof of dysfunction frequently makes national news, with routine harmful algal blooms, fish and wildlife mortality events and public notices of pathogenic or toxic contamination of our waters. It’s not okay. People suffer, wildlife suffers, property values suffer, businesses suffer, communities suffer. Waiting for political solutions in a system that favors pollution industries financing those politics — is a fool’s game. We need a clear, simple, legal solution to restore the necessary checks and balances for such a critical necessity to all lives — water.”

Further, the website explains, the amendment “creates a fundamental right to clean and healthy waters, clarifies prohibited actions and inactions that harm (or threaten to harm) waters, and defines important terms. It also allows Floridians to enforce this right through the ability to sue state executive agencies that violate this right, empowering courts to look at the science and truth (and not politics) of what’s going on before awarding equitable relief to the situation.”

The blank petition for supporting the amendment is available on the site for downloading, printing and making copies, the news release adds. Petitions still may be mailed, the release continues, “but remember that local submission to an ambassador or ‘petition station’ has become available.”

“To get involved, contact, a local source for information about the petition, to invite a speaker to your group, to get blank petitions, to arrange for pickup of signed petitions, and to volunteer to help get the clean water we have been seeking for decades,” the release adds.

“Those not registered to vote in Florida, but who are interested in supporting the initiative, are welcome as volunteers and, of course, may make financial donations through the site,” the release further notes.

“Getting the clean and healthy waters we need is up to us — help get this choice before the voters,” the release concludes.

1 thought on “Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores becomes first neighborhood association in Sarasota to endorse proposed clean water amendment to Florida Constitution”

  1. I haven’t read the clean water amendment proposal. However, if it applies to the dumping of sewage into the crown jewel – the Gulf of Mexico – I’m in. We have to protect our Gulf of Mexico. We need to get rid of the dangerous pesticides and fertilizers that the farm farmers use and also get dumped into the gulf.

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