Former Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, a longtime Wellington resident, has filed to run for Palm Beach County sheriff in the 2024 election cycle.
Gauger, a Republican, is challenging five-term incumbent Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, a Democrat, who is planning to seek a sixth term.
In his distinguished, decades-long career at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Gauger earned promotions from deputy to detective, then sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major and colonel, before being named chief deputy.
As the PBSO’s second in command from 2005 until his retirement in 2021, Gauger was responsible for an annual budget of $594 million with a staff composition upward of 3,200 employees (1,560-plus sworn officers and 1,730-plus non-sworn personnel), as well as a corrections budget of $154 million with a staff of more than 700 sworn personnel.
Gauger has a long history of community involvement. He currently serves as an advisory board member of the Comprehensive Alcoholism Rehabilitation Programs Inc. (CARP), a director and past chair of the Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation (LEAF) and a trustee of the South Florida Fair, to name just a few.
Additional notable positions formerly held by Gauger include director of the Wellington Boys & Girls Club, board member and chair of Families First of Palm Beach County, chair and board member of the Southeast Florida Behavioral Network, and chair of the board of trustees at JFK Hospital.
Passionate about lifelong learning, Gauger has continuously pursued continuing educational opportunities throughout his career. He holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a master’s degree in social work from Barry University. He is also a graduate of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government – Senior Executives in State and Local Government, the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville, and Leadership Palm Beach County.
Gauger is the recipient of numerous community-based awards. Some of his most distinguished honors include Governmental Official of the Year from the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, the Trailblazer Award from the Urban League of Palm Beach County, the Citizen of the Year Award from the Royal Palm Beach Rotary Club and the Nettie Finkle Award from the Town of Palm Beach United Way, among many others.
“I look forward to continuing my service to the people of Palm Beach County as your new sheriff,” Gauger said. “I will draw from my decades of experience working with every department of the PBSO in addressing the issues important to our residents, and I will apply my extensive community involvement experience in advocating for and engaging with issues related to mental health and substance abuse rehabilitation, bringing fresh ideas and a more comprehensive approach to law enforcement.”
The filing deadline for next year’s sheriff’s race is still more than a year away. Bradshaw has not yet filed for re-election, although he has said that he plans to run. Aside from Gauger, Lauro Diaz has also filed to run as a Republican. Diaz lost to Bradshaw in the 2020 general election. Democrat Alex Freeman, who lost to Bradshaw in the 2020 primary election, has also filed to run in 2024.