He began his public career as a policeman, went on to become a detective, a selectman, an assessor and finally a state representative, but at age 67 he will retire from public life.
State Representative Cleon H. Turner (D-Dennis) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2014. He is retiring from the state legislature after ten years of service in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Turner said he will serve until January 6, 2015, when the new legislature is sworn in, explaining that he initially ran for the legislature because he wanted to reconnect the state government with community needs.
In a statement printed in total below, Mr. Turner said, “Reminding my colleagues that Cape Codders are not all rich and that Cape communities have significant issues with housing, homelessness, education funding, elderly issues, mental illness and other issues remains a challenge that I will continue to work on in my final year in office and that the Cape Delegation mustn’t give up on."
The statement from Cleon Turner
TURNER NOT SEEKING RE-ELECTION
(BOSTON, MA)- Today Representative Cleon H. Turner (D-Dennis) formally announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, thereby retiring from the state legislature after ten years of service in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Turner will serve until January 6, 2015, when the new legislature is sworn in.
Turner explained that he initially ran for the legislature because he wanted to reconnect the state government with community needs. Having bridged that gap, he said Wednesday, he is proud of his work with town administrators, selectmen and other local officials in formulating and passing home rule petitions and dealing with state agencies.
“Reminding my colleagues that Cape Codders are not all rich and that Cape communities have significant issues with housing, homelessness, education funding, elderly issues, mental illness and other issues remains a challenge that I will continue to work on in my final year in office and that the Cape Delegation mustn’t give up on,” Turner said.
Turner created the Legislature’s Regional School Caucus and quickly recruited legislators outside the 495 belt to educate leadership in both the House and Senate that regional schools and vocational schools are significantly different than non-regional schools. The Caucus successfully lobbied for increased Regional School Transportation funding and created parity in the state’s Chapter 70 law, allowing regional school districts to use their excess and deficiency funds the same way non-regional schools do.
“There is still a need to ensure that Regional School Transportation is fully funded. I will continue to push for this cause until my last day and make sure that the Regional School Caucus will continue working on regional school issues,” said Turner.
Within the halls of the State House, Turner became known as the “go-to man” for other legislators, leading him to begin holding educational sessions prior to votes. “I know I can always count on Cleon to have a well-researched understanding of bills and a thorough grasp of the intricacies of the law,” Arlington State Representative Sean Garballey said. “The ‘Calendar Sessions’ put on by Representative Turner provide an excellent opportunity for legislators and staff to discuss bills coming to the House floor. Cleon’s dedication is hard to match.”
Accomplishments and Acknowledgements
Ellen Holmes, Chair of the Regional School Committee of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees said, "Representative Turner has been a true champion for the Regional Schools Community. As a Freshman Representative stepping up to establish a Regional Schools Caucus, Cleon's tenacious advocacy demonstrated his commitment to our often overlooked issues. This led to his recognition by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees as Legislator of the Year 2006. The Regional Schools Committee wishes to express our deep appreciation to Rep. Turner who has worked so passionately in support of the Commonwealth’s regional schools. The collaborative relationship we have had with him has offered great benefits to our regional schools communities and we look forward to working with him for the next year."
Steve Hemman, Executive Director of The Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS), said, “MARS has appreciated the support that Rep. Turner has given to regional schools districts in the Commonwealth. He formed the Regional Caucus in the Legislature during his first term in order to educated legislators on the issues that regional school district face. He has been a champion for regional school transportation reimbursement and has filed legislation that assists districts in providing quality education for their students. We thank him for his 9 years of service and will look forward to continuing our relationship with him in the coming year.”
Ed Lewis, member of the Nauset Regional School Committee and former Selectman for the Town of Brewster, said, "Cleon was and is, in my opinion, the gold standard for Legislators. His willingness to represent his district and the State with honor, dignity and understanding was vital to the interests of the Town of Brewster. He is always in the forefront when it came to issues of importance to his district and specifically our town. He will leave with very big shoes to fill and will be greatly missed."
Rick White, Town Administrator for the Town of Dennis, said, “I have had the pleasure of working with Cleon for the last five years. He is the model legislator. He has his fingers firmly place on the pulse of his district. He developed an intimate relationship with his communities and the people in them and it showed! He is a marvelous public servant who will be missed when he leaves at the end of his current term.”
Pat Armstrong, Director of Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries for the Town of Yarmouth, said, “Rep. Turner works tirelessly to respond to the needs of our community to write and sponsor legislation that has improved the quality of life in Yarmouth and the district for all of our residents. The Yarmouth Parks and Recreation Division has directly benefitted from his support of the EEO PARC Grant requests that have recaptured $900,000 in tax dollars that were used for Capital Improvements at Flax Pond. His even handed approach and consensus building skills will be greatly missed when his current term expires in January 2015.”
Constituent Services: Resolved complex constituent cases to bridge the gap among constituents and state agencies Returned over $240,000 in unclaimed property to constituents. Rep. Turner made personal calls and visits to people with unclaimed property.
Funding: Bridge Street, Dennis culvert – allows proper tidal passage and marsh restoration Paine’s Creek? Oral Rabies Vaccination Program Restoration of The Josiah Dennis Manse (Dennis) and Crosby Mansion (Brewster) Restored significant funding to Regional School Transportation, and created the Regional School Caucus in the State House. Additionally, he helped to link regional school transportation funding to Chapter 70 funding ensuring that DY and Nauset are fairly funded
Passing legislation: Fought to restore local aid to towns and worked tirelessly with his communities to craft legislation addressing their needs (i.e. Yarmouth Marina, other home rules)
Creating Awareness: Creation of an active and effective Regional School Caucus Creation of “Calendar Sessions” to education Members of the House on the intricacies of upcoming votes
History of Public Service:
Police Officer, Sgt, Dennis, MA Police Dept.
Administrator, Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Waterville, ME
Police Officer, Detective, Yarmouth, ME Police Dept.
Police Officer, Orono, ME Police Dept.
Selectman, Town of Dennis, 9 years, Chair, 5 years
Dennis Board of Health (Concurrent with Selectman)
Dennis Licensing Board (Concurrent with Selectman)
Assessor, Town of Dennis, 20 years, Chair 5 years
Dennis Housing Authority, Chair
Dennis Affordable Housing Committee
Dennis DPW Building Committee
Dennis DPW Superintendent Search Committee
Dennis Asst. Town Admin. Search Committee
Cape Cod Planning and Economic Development Commission