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Turner now says he'll run for chairman

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

Former Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner said Friday he will seek the county commission chairman's post in 2012, and not the sheriff's job, as he previously announced.

He said the reason for the change is because of residency restrictions.

Calling it a "miscalculation," Turner said he did not realize he would have to live in Clayton for at least two years to qualify as a candidate for sheriff. The residency requirement for a commission seat is one year.

Turner said he moved to Morrow, from Henry County, in the fall. Qualifying for the 2012 election begins in about a year.

"Initially, I was going to run for one or the other, anyway," he said. "When the door to the sheriff's office closed, I just decided to go ahead for chairman."

Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, in his second term, has not announced plans for re-election. He had no comment on Turner's announcement Friday.

Turner, 47, had spent his adult life as a Clayton County police officer, and took over the department as its first black chief in 2007, when Darrell Partain retired.

He was removed as police chief, by the county commission in 2009, and made head of the county's police academy. Turner was left without a job later, when commission voted to close the academy.

He has never held elected office, but said he can bring a fresh face to the table.

"I think I can bring innovation, a progressive vision to the county," said Turner. "And, hopefully, stability. I am hearing from people who are tired of the in-house bickering among the board members. The people are looking for stability and true leadership."

Turner said he has a lot of community support. "I filed my declaration of intent to run, so I can start actively collecting funds," he said.

Turner said he is currently criminal justice program director at a local college.