Candidate: Michael Gallen
Education: Graduated from Manatee High School and attended Manatee Community College. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Georgia and received his Law Degree from Nova Southeastern University School of Law.
Occupation: Manatee County Commissioner
Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen is seeking reelection to the board and will face two challengers in the August Democratic primary. An attorney and former teacher at Lakewood Ranch High, Gallen brings an impressive first-term record to the table, despite being the lone member of his party on the 7-member BOCC.
Gallen is a Manatee High School alum who went on to MCC (now State College of Florida), before earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Georgia and a Law Degree from Nova Southeastern University School of Law.
He worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in the office of General Counsel and the Florida House of Representatives as staff attorney for the Committee on Business Regulation during the 2003 and 2004 legislative sessions, before moving on to teach high school.
Gallen was first elected to the board in 2010, when he survived a vicious developer-funded attack to unseat 16-year incumbent Gwen Brown in an open primary. During his first term, the commissioner earned a reputation as being thoroughly engaged with the community and well-prepared for each issue the board faced.
Gallen successfully worked with the community to come up with a solution at the former Groover's Market in Palmetto, a den of criminal activity and violence that was ultimately shut down. He also took the lead on an interlocal agreement that has opened school parks and other facilities in the evening and summers, giving area youth a safe place to congregate.
Gallen believes that revitalizing the district's economic core is a key to bringing prosperity to constituents and has worked to get the Urban Inflow Redevelopment Area lined up with the DDA Enterprise Zone in the urban core. The UIRA was created by Florida statute, but the county had never really done anything with it. With the districts aligned by the same boundaries, it has helped to simplify and further incentivize development in the North 41 urban core.
Gallen says he's proud of what's been accomplished but sees much more that needs to improve in the district and is hoping voters send him back to the dais to continue his work.
Gallen faces Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith and former District 1 candidate Corie Holmes in a three-way Democratic primary this August. There is no Republican on the ballot, but because a write-in candidate has registered, the race will be closed off to Democrats only.
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