Arthur Turner vows Peace and Blessings...And Results
Carla Peay | 9/5/2010, 11:41 a.m.
Arthur Turner. Courtesy Photo
Joe Smith (not his real name) sat outside a local Starbucks sipping a latte and enjoying the late summer weather, but didn't hesitate to stand up to shake the hand of Arthur Turner as he walked by.
"Mr. Turner, I see you everywhere. You're always out in our communities," Smith said. Smith admits to being disillusioned by the political process and to a distrust of politicians in general, but said that Turner is different.
"You don't just see him at election time. He's always out here working for us." True to Smith's words, Turner is far from what most people consider a "typical politician." Turner, who greets people with the words "peace and blessings", has been described as an inclusive and visionary leader who believes in community involvement.
Turner is running for Prince George's County Council in District 6, and faces a crowded field to replace outgoing Councilman Sam Dean.
"The citizens and voters of District 6 appreciate and value my 20 years of dedicated and loyal service and activism to Prince George's County. They appreciate the fact that I have had the courage to get in the ring and fight for the things that people wanted," Turner said.
A strong proponent of business and commercial economic development, Turner was instrumental in several development projects, including Bowie Town Center, Largo Town Center, the Ritchie Station Marketplace and Woodmore Towne Center, which includes a Wegmans Food Market.
Wegmans, ranked by Consumer Reports as the top grocery chain in the U.S. in 2009, is exactly the type of high end retail chain Turner has helped to bring to Prince George's County.
"People have also said they want Federal agencies, State agencies - they want jobs here in Prince George's County. We are now getting the largest state agency - Housing and Community Development - here in the County," Turner said. Turner worked with Maryland governor Martin O'Malley to bring the agency to the County, which will open up even more new jobs.
"We also know that companies will locate in and around that agency, so that's more jobs," Turner added. Turner was also instrumental in having the Arena Drive exit 16 open 24 hours a day, which has led to increased business in the Largo Town Center area.
Turner stands out from his competitors with a long list of civic and community involvement projects to his credit, including:
* Coalition of Central Prince George's County Community Org. - President
* Towns of Kettering Home Owners Association - President
* United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) - Chair of Board
* Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee -Former Chair (3 Terms)
* Prince George's County Chamber of Commerce Quality of Life Committee - Former Chair
* Board of Directors Prince George's County Library Foundation - Member
* Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA - Blue Line Extension Advisory Group Committee) - Member
* Largo-Lottsford Area Sector Plan--Planning Advisory Group - Member
* PEPCO Community Advisory Group (CAG) - Member
* Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA - Transit Oriented Development Advisory Committee) - Member
* Prince George's County Citizens Police Academy - Graduate
* Andrews Air force Base Honorary Commander
With a highly successful record as a community activist, Turner decided it was finally time to run for office himself.
"I was frustrated by the lack of initiative, the lack of leadership, the lack of vision and the failure to aggressively pursue businesses. I have seen for the last year and a half businesses locate to Fairfax County, and Prince George's County never even entered the race [to keep the businesses]."
Among those businesses, Turner listed Hilton Hotels, SAIC, Northrop Grumman and Volkswagen of America as companies which moved their headquarters to Fairfax County.
"Prince George's County did not even compete. I decided that if we don't have anyone with the courage and guts to get in the ring, then I have to get in there and do it. We have too much potential, and there are too many opportunities here in the County to not take advantage of them," Turner said.
In addition to his civic and community involvements, Turner has also been successful politically, serving in the following areas:
*Elected to the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee (25th Legislative District) in 2006
*Elected Vice-Chair of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee in 2006
*Re-Elected Vice-Chair of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee in 2008
If elected to represent District 6, Turner vows to bring a sense of community, vision and integrity to the job. His slogan is "Together we can do better", and has received the endorsement of the man he would replace, Sam Dean.
"As the current Councilmember for District 6, I endorse Arthur Turner because he has worked in Prince George's County for 20 years to bring more jobs to the County, help homeowners fight foreclosure, get better education for our youth and lower crime in our neighborhoods. He is ready to serve on day one," Dean said in a released statement.
Dean, who is running for County Executive, has made a well-documented surge in recent weeks to battle presumed front runners Rushern Baker and Michael Jackson.
Another of Turner's strongest supporters is Terry Speigner, who has been Chairman of the Prince George's County Democratic Party since 2006, and just recently stepped down in July. Speigner referred to his longtime friend as "superhuman", referring to Turner's grueling schedule and his dedication in an article in Prince George's Suite magazine that profiled Turner several years ago.
Turner cites his top priorities as economic development, bringing jobs to the County, growing the tax base.
"We need to have commercial offices. We need to diversify our business. Right now, our economy is based on the sale of homes, on residential development. When we get that [diversity], we have people coming from other jurisdictions to spend their money. When they do that, they'll get their coffee here, they'll buy their lunch here, buy their clothes here, get their hair and nails done here, get their gas here, Turner said."
"With that tax revenue, we'll be able to use that money to pay our teachers and our school administrators, our firefighters and EMS workers and police officers. We'll then have the money to provide the services that we want in Prince George's County. Talk about having to furlough employees will be off the table, because we will have money to pay our County employees."
His other priority - improving the image of Prince George's County.
"The image now is not a good one. It needs to be shaped into a good one," Turner said. "We need to restore the confidence that people have in leadership."