VoteWater, formerly Bullsugar.org, is a grassroots organization founded by Stuart residents in August 2014 on the belief that stopping the damaging discharges to our coasts and restoring the Everglades is not a science or engineering problem. The science has been known for decades. Our problem is a political problem - and it requires a political solution.
To fight political corruption in Florida by galvanizing public resolve to end the systemic pollution and mismanagement of our waterways.
To preserve and protect the public’s right to clean and sustainable water by:
- Identifying and elevating environmentally responsible candidates for public office;
- Influencing elected officials to advance and vote for clean-water policies;
- Producing a highly visible clean-water voter guide every election cycle to create sustained momentum for improved water policy.
We will serve as the voice and conscience of 22 million Floridians who recognize the importance of clean water to marine life, human life, and economic vitality.
Bullsugar distributed more than 2,500 "Vote Water" yard signs; people from around the stated asked to print their own. Voters from coast to coast proudly displayed non-partisan commitments to support toxic discharge reduction, Everglades restoration, and every citizen's right to clean water.
Clean water found its political voice in 2018 as Bullsugar provided state wide voter guides for the primary and general elections, highlighting the most competitive races with a clear difference in candidates. Analysis was based on responses to Bullsugar's candidate questionnaires, voting records, personal interviews, public statements, and campaign contribution sources. The effort's influence was clear when all gubernatorial candidates (except for eventual upset loser Adam Putnam) pledged to run sugar-free campaigns, and later when agriculture commissioner favorite Matt Caldwell invested in anti-Bullsugar attack ads before his own upset loss to Bullsugar-endorsed Nikki Fried.
In an era where competing narratives crowd out the truth, Bullsugar built a loyal social media audience by defining ourselves as a credible source of information. We communicate with more than 330,000 followers every day, but more important, our engagement levels reached all-time highs during the 2018 election season and continue to climb. More people than ever are reading and reacting to our messages, especially to Bullsugar original content.
Bullsugar's newsletter and blog helped a growing list of subscribers understand the political, scientific, medical, and technical dimensions of Florida's fight for clean water, from independent scientists' analysis of project plans, to water quality reports and medical researchers' guidance on toxic blooms. Readers have come to expect Bullsugar to deliver the unvarnished truth, provide readable analysis that makes complex issues clear, and flag opportunities to speak up and take action.
When we can't find coverage for important stories, Bullsugar has the resources and talent to do it ourselves. From primary research on Everglades flooding, drainage and water consumption to first-hand accounts of sugarcane burning and the fight to save dogs poisoned by Lake Okeechobee discharges, our original reporting has had an impact.
Bullsugar's communications team is also an asset to mainstream news producers, helping journalists source and report stories for national media like The Atlantic, NPR/All Things Considered, and Politico as well as top-tier TV, radio, and print outlets across Florida. Bullsugar appeared in more than 40 stories this year and helped produce dozens more to raise awareness of the problems and the solutions to our water crisis.