Former State Sen. Joseph Abruzzo appears to have a clear shot to be the next Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller, as he will face only write-in opposition in November’s general election.
Abruzzo will succeed four-term Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock, who announced in March that she would not seek a fifth term.
Abruzzo announced his candidacy just days before the filing period ended June 12, supported by a full slate of endorsements from local and county officials. Until then, Bock’s Chief Operating Officer Shannon Chessman, who had been endorsed by the incumbent, seemed Bock’s likely successor. However, Chessman withdrew from the race when Abruzzo entered, and she did not qualify for the ballot. Abruzzo now only faces token opposition in the form of write-in candidate Engracia Bondonese.
“There is a write-in candidate, so that means that the name does not appear on the ballot,” Abruzzo told the Town-Crier on Wednesday.
Abruzzo has been a longtime presence in the western communities, having served as the Wellington-area state representative for District 85 from 2008 to 2012 and state senator for District 25 from 2012 to 2016.
When the districts were redrawn, Abruzzo ran for state representative again in District 81, based in southern Palm Beach County, where he served from 2016 to 2018 before declining to seek re-election. He is currently working as director of communications for a Boca Raton law firm.
As clerk, Abruzzo’s many responsibilities will include monitoring the county’s financial activities.
“That’s what initially got me interested in the position. I was audit chairman for the entire state,” he said. “This position is multi-faceted, with more than a thousand statutory duties, one being leading auditing for our county. This is really a safety, custodian and watchdog [position] for everybody. I would say what I did in Tallahassee is very much geared toward this position. I am very much excited to be transitioning to a local role.”
He said the local position will help him return to public service while keeping his priorities in the community, which include raising his son.
“This position as clerk of the court is essential to keep the court system for everyone in the central western communities who has something happening in our circuit court,” Abruzzo said. “This office is the custodian of our taxpayer dollars, as well as safeguarding the public record.”
During Abruzzo’s tenure in Tallahassee, he served as the audit committee chair, Senate Finance and Tax Committee vice-chair, Democratic ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee and the Justice Appropriations Committee, which provides funding to Florida’s judicial branch.
As Democratic whip in both houses of the legislature, Abruzzo said that he was intimately involved in the state’s budgetary process, where he worked to provide oversight on the state’s $80 billion-plus annual budget.
Before his political career, Abruzzo attended Lynn University in Boca Raton, where he served as president of the student government association and was appointed by the Boca Raton City Council to the Boca Raton Education Advisory Board. He graduated with a degree in international communications in 2003 and joined the United States Coast Guard later that year, where he worked as a port security specialist.