BRADENTON — The unnerving jangle of a nearby jackhammer provided fitting background noise to an Amendment 4 rally Tuesday afternoon across from the Manatee County Administration Building.
About 40 supporters yelled over the din to assert that Florida needs to rein in developers who would spoil the state’s natural beauty.
“There is no better metaphor than that noise over there,” said organizer Joe Kane, of Manatee County for Amendment 4, pointing toward construction at the corner of Manatee Avenue West and Old Main Street. “We have to speak above it.”
Amendment 4 on the Nov. 2 ballot would allow residents to vote on changes to a comprehensive plan, which governs development. Currently, local governments decide whether to amend their comprehensive plans.
The rally came during the lunch break of a Manatee County Commission land-use meeting. Commissioner Joe McClash and commission candidate Roger Galle spoke to a crowd waving signs that read “Vote Yes on 4: Florida Hometown Democracy.” An empty table was reserved for “developers, lobbyists and special interests.”
“How many of us have been in countless meetings in those chambers?” asked Sandy Ripberger, conservation chair of the local chapter of the Sierra Club.
The rally’s main attraction was Mitch Kates, the campaign manager for St. Petersburg-based Yes on Amendment 4. Kates, now a political consultant, was once the professional wrestler known as “Jason the Terrible.”
“It’s very simple,” Kates said.
“Voters have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a seat at the table when it comes to decision-making in their communities.”
Jill Yelverton, of Pasco County’s Yes on Amendment 4 group, urged voters to ignore the amendment’s opponents, who say it will hurt the economy and unnecessarily bog down the election process.
“Be very wary of anyone who tries to scare you into denying yourself the right to vote,” she said.
The state’s voters must pass Amendment 4 by a supermajority of 60 percent.