Incumbent Michael Gallen seeks his second term on the Manatee County commission after four years of proving worthy of his election in 2010. He hopes to continue the progress on his initiatives after success on other projects.
His challengers in this Democratic primary election on Aug. 26 are Corie Holmes and Charles B. Smith, who -- like Gallen -- are passionate about serving the residents in District 2. The winner will face write-in candidate Troy Thomas in the November general election.
Gallen works full time as a commissioner, responding to constituent and community needs. A lawyer and member of the Florida and Manatee County Bar Associations, his legal experience and knowledge allow him to compose legal analyses of community issues for the board -- skills that have time and again been valuable.
On one pressing issue before the commission, indigent health care, only Gallen expresses a viable way to move forward -- by composing and adopting a comprehensive health care plan that proves to voters that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.
His accomplishments during his first term reflect his goal of improving the community. He led the debate on returning Children's Services Tax dollars to the goals that voters intended when passing the surtax -- and not to divert funds to juvenile incarceration.
Prompted by community outrage, Gallen successfully led the legal battle to close Groover's Market, a public nuisance for its incessant drug dealing and other crime.
This summer, he also laid the legal foundation to shut down a wild and loud party house that took hold of an abandoned home in District 2 for 14 years -- this after the county failed to address recurring pleas from residents. He even had to battle county staff to accomplish this.
The Rev. Jesse Smalley of First Community Church of Palmetto cited Gallen as a key figure in securing federal funding for infrastructure improvements -- new sidewalks and road resurfacing -- for a long-neglected neighborhood. "Commissioner Gallen has made great efforts to see that we are not overlooked anymore," Smalley told Herald reporter Sara Kennedy in July.
Gallen pushed the county into taking charge of building youth baseball fields at Blackstone Park, rejecting staff's concerns about site remediation that proved to be unwarranted.
These are but a few of his accomplishments during his first term.
Gallen supports responsible growth with incentives for urban infill, further protection of the county's natural environment and new low-impact design standards for developments -- all prudent positions. And he personally works with law enforcement agencies on attacking crime.
He has helped bring jobs to the district via county incentives that lured Feld Entertainment, It-Works Global and Air Products among other businesses.
An American government instructor at Lakewood Ranch High School for six years with experience on the Florida House of Representatives staff, the Manatee County native brings deep knowledge of governance to the commission along with his legal expertise.
For Manatee County commission District 2, the Herald recommends Michael Gallen in the Democratic primary.
Candidates who do not receive the Herald Editorial Board's endorsement are invited to submit a response of up to 300 words by 4 p.m. the next weekday after the recommendation appears in print.
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