BRADENTON – Former Manatee County Commissioner Gwen Brown, who was a lightning bolt for controversy and criticism over her 16-years on the BOCC, has filed paperwork to run for her old seat. Brown was defeated soundly by incumbent District 2 Commissioner Michael Gallen in 2010, despite a large fundraising advantage and the support of an expensive developer-funded attack campaign through various PACs.
Brown ran into several embarrassing situations in the run-up to the 2010 election, from having her county wages garnished for unpaid debts to having to reimburse the county for gross misuse of public resources.
In the short period she served between losing the open primary and the seating of Commissioner Gallen, she ended up in the middle of another controversy. Despite county attorneys having put a gag order on the issue, she was caught on video speaking with a Neal Communities consultant (ironically, current County Commissioner Betsy Benac) during a break, only to return to the chamber and switch her vote, swinging a controversial decision on the Robinson Farms development.
As no Republican filed to run for the seat in 2010, Brown vs. Gallen became an open primary. Counting PAC money, Brown outspent Gallen around four dollars to one, but still ended up losing by nearly 12 points. So far there are no less than four candidates who have filed for August's Democratic primary.
Along with Gallen and Brown, Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith and Palmetto-based private investigator Corie Holmes have thrown their hats into the ring. Holmes made an unsuccessful bid to challenge District 1 County Commissioner Larry Bustle in 2012.
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