|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 1st district
|Preceded by||Charlie Clary|
January 22, 1948 |
|Spouse(s)||Victoria Quertermous Gaetz (1981-present)|
Donald Jay Gaetz was born January 22, 1948, in rural North Dakota. His father, Jerry, served as mayor of Rugby, North Dakota, and a state legislator while also working as a rancher, farmer and railroad worker. Jerry Gaetz died of a heart attack at the 1964 state Republican convention while his 16-year-old son watched on TV. Thus, Gaetz has a family history of politics and is "a lifelong Republican." Gaetz’s mother suffered from Parkinson’s disease. Late in life, she moved from the sawed house her Norwegian immigrant parents built on the North Dakota prairie to Florida to be with her son, and she died in 1997 at age 79.
Gaetz graduated from Rugby High School in 1966. He graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and political science, and he later received an alumni award for lifetime achievement. At Concordia College, Gaetz was student body president and a national debate champion.
On May 7, 1982, the Gaetzes welcomed their first child, Matthew Louis Gaetz II. Matt Gaetz is a lawyer with the firm of Keefe, Anchors, Gordon and Moyle in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He ran for state representative, district 4, in early 2010. He won the Republican primary for the special race on March 24 by a large margin and garnered 66 percent of the general election vote on April 13, 2010. He was sworn in April 15. After Matt's victory, the Gaetzes became the only father-son team in the Florida legislature.
While pregnant with their second child, Vicky developed a rare complication and began bleeding from the spine. Doctors advised the Gaetzes to terminate the pregnancy, but both Vicky and Don were pro-life and insisted on keeping the baby. Erin Victoria was born in 1985, but the complication rendered Vicky paraplegic. Gaetz has said Vicky’s condition has made him passionate about healthcare and he “doesn’t just view it as policy.” Erin Gaetz is a well-regarded authority on music videos who works as a producer for MSNBC's Morning Joe. She formerly worked as an editorial producer for Major League Baseball in New York City.
Gaetz moved to Florida in 1978 and served as a hospital administrator in Jacksonville in the late 1970s.
Previously, he was the Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools. He was the first non-educator to be elected to the position, and oversaw the improvement of Okaloosa's school system from a "C" average to an "A" according to Florida's Department of Education standards based on FCAT scores per students. During his years as the chairman for the School Board of Okaloosa County Schools, he proposed and allowed the creation of a local sales tax increase to fund and ONLY fund local school renovations, additions, and the construction of 3 new schools altogether. Mr. Gaetz's political career began in 1994, when he was first elected to the Okaloosa School Board, defeating a Libertarian and an incumbent Democrat. He was elected to a second term in 1998, winning the position of Superintendent in 2000 after defeating local principal/candidate Dr. David E. Morgan. He was reelected and unopposed in the 2004 general election. During his term, Gaetz appeared on 20/20, All Things Considered, and twice on The Today Show. In 2006, he resigned from his post as Superintendent to join the Florida Senate. It should also be noted he has a master of public administration (M.P.A) degree from Troy State University.
- http://www2.miami-dadeclerk.com/mlsweb/LicenseSearch.aspx, Search: Donald Gaetz, Victorai Quertermous
- Official biography of Don Gaetz.
- Gaetz for Senate
- Florida State Legislature - Senator Don Gaetz
- Project Vote Smart - Senator Don Gaetz (FL) profile
- Follow the Money - Don Gaetz
- 2006 campaign contributions
- Gaetz for Senate