Wayne Garcia and Mitch Kates to work for Hometown Democracy Amendment 4

Getting back to the measure itself, Lesley Blackner isn't kidding when she says she and her staff have been fighting simply to get the measure on the ballot for years, where it faces strong opposition from businesses, builders and some community groups fighting the measure, as well as a number of local politicians, some progressive, who do not support it (at a recent candidates forum with most of the candidates on the ballot for Hillsborough County Commission, not a one supported the measure, though many criticized St. Petersburg City Council members for their attempts to deal with it before it has been voted on).

Amendment 4 would require that any time a local government would adopt or amend a new comprehensive land-use plan, that plan would go before the voters by referendum.

In addition to the usual suspects who oppose the bill, such developers and their ilk , a number of progressive groups, such as the growth watchdog group 1,000 Friends of Florida, are opposing the measure, and last month the Florida AFL-CIO announced their opposition to the measure.

However, there is much popular support for the measure, which would have to get 60% of the vote in November to get on the Florida Constitution.  A Mason-Dixon poll conducted earlier this year showed that 61% of Floridians surveyed support the measure.

The Florida Hometown Democracy campaign announced Wednesday morning that former CL News & Politics Editor Wayne Garcia and Mitch Kates, the St. Petersburg based Democratic political consultant, have joined the Amendment Four campaign.  Garcia will serve as communications director, Kates as campaign manager.

Lesley Blackner, president of Florida Hometown Democracy, made the announcement in a press release issued this morning:

"Mitch and Wayne will help us bring our campaign to a higher level, adding new energy and expertise as they work alongside scores of volunteers to counter Big Development's lies and tell the truth about how Floridians can have their say."

"Our Volunteers and a handful of staff have spent years fighting special interests to get petition signatures, only to see the influence of developers and big-money lobbyists despicably try to block us at every turn," Blackner said.  "It was exhausting just getting Amendment 4 to the ballot, where voters could actually have their own say about it. Now, with this new campaign team in place, we have a new infusion of excitement and professional experience, and our volunteers are re-committed to campaigning hard through Election Day."

CL readers are quite familiar with the previous work of Wayne Garcia.  For over four years he served in the position as News & Politics Editor (the position that I succeeded him in last September).  For the past year, Wayne taught Journalism at the University of Florida.  Before becoming "The Political Whore", he consulted for numerous politicians of all stripes in the Bay area, and before that reported for both the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times.

"This is certainly the ballot amendment that is key to our state's future, so to be part of the campaign to give Floridians the power to control their growth and economic future is exciting," he said in a statement.

Mitch Kates has had a string of successes in previous years, such as Mary Mulhern's extremely close victory over Shawn Harrison for Tampa City Council in 2007, and Kevin Beckner's stunning victory over Brian Blair for Hillsborough County Commission in 2008.  He is currently working as a political adviser to the Linda Saul-Sena campaign for County Commission, as well as for Charlie Justice in his campaign for Congress in District 10 against Bill Young.

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