Tommy Turner has earned his retirement. At the end of this year he will have served 24 years in the Kentucky House of Representatives. That's nearly a quarter of a century.
Tommy announced Tuesday he will not seek a 13th term representing the 85th House District. Most of the district is in Pulaski County but the eastern part extends into Laurel County. Tommy is the only state representative living in Pulaski County. His home is in the Ano communiity.
"My heart is no longer in it," said the 67-year-Turner. "There is tremendous stress to this job and stress bothers me more. From his comments, Tommy is obviously disillusioned at increasingly partisan governments preventing anything from being done.
Driving to Frankfort hundreds of times; being away from your family days and weeks during regular and special sessions of the General Assembly can be tiring. Wear and tear on your body eventually take a toll.
Reelection would have been almost a certainty for Turner. He has a solid base of support. He is a Pulaski countian's Pulaski countian. He is a self-proclaimed country boy. "I have never forgotten from where I came," he often says.
Turner for many years operated a molasses mill near his home at Ano. Not only did he give a pint jar of sorghum to bystanders, there were hot biscuits and butter at a screened-in porch for those who wanted to sit and enjoy themselves. What's not to like!
Tommy was a journalist's delight. He often came to the Commonwealth Journal newsroom to talk with reporters. Tommy was candid, transparent and would look you straight in the eye. He always returned telephone calls.
A Republican, Tommy took pride in the fact he could go across the aisle and work with Democrats. He calls Paul Patton, a Democrat, " ... the best governor I ever worked with."
Turner has been an effective representative for Pulaski County. He recently obtained $22 million in State Transportation Cabinet funds to help create a cloverleaf interchange at Ky. 80 and Ky. 461. The project, alleviating the existing dangerous intersection, will be under construction next summer.
Tommy got money to upgrade the golf course on General Burnside Island State Park. The Brian Ault-designed course is one of the best in Kentucky.
Funds obtained by Tommy help build the Pulaski County Senior Citizens Center, Pulaski County's Public Library, water and sewer extensions, community parks all over the county and numerous other projects.
At his announced retirement, Tommy wants Pulaski countians to know he cherishes the opportunity they have given him to serve in the State Legislature. "Not many like me get this kind of opportunity," he remarked. Tommy loves Pulaski County.
As of Wednesday morning, nobody had filed to fill Turner's seat. It's going to take a big person to walk in Tommy's shoes.
Tommy is special. Tommy is one of us.
THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Michael McCleery, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; Shirley Randall, Production; and Chris Harris, Staff Writer.