By Cary Shuman
Jeffrey R. Turco, a 38-year-old attorney, is off and running vigorously for the position of president of the Winthrop Town Council.
Turco, who has lived in town for five years, has started collecting signatures for his nomination papers. He has launched a door-to-door-campaign in his neighborhood and sent a campaign mailing to residents.
Turco said he decided to run for office as he started developing some roots here and watched the Town Council meetings and the financial crisis of the past year.
“With all the activity going on in the town, I felt you can be a critic on the sidelines or as Teddy Roosevelt said, ‘You can get into the arena,”’ he said.
Turco, who is 6 feet 6 inches tall, said he has sensed during his interaction with residents “that people feel there is a need for new, fresh leadership that’s not tied to any particular group, and they want someone who just wants to come in and serve the community.”
Turco grew up in Revere and attended Malden Catholic High School. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts where he received a bachelor’s degree in history. He holds a law degree from the Quinnipiac College School of Law and is qualified to practice law in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Turco works as the superintendent in the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and runs the day-to-day operations of the correctional facility in West Boylston.
He believes his experience as an attorney and his administrative job of overseeing a budget of $45.7 million in the sheriff’s office establish a solid foundation to his candidacy for Town Council president. Turco leads a staff of 656 people in the office, including 400 correctional officers.
He is excited about running for local office. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and meeting people and letting them know what I’m about,” said Turco. “There’s a general feeling in Winthrop and the commonwealth that people are frustrated and the economic conditions have them scared and the town is in a precarious situation financially – and people are looking for change, but change with experience.”
Turco said one of the first things he would do as Town Council president is “come in as an outsider and take a fresh look at the town audit and determine the cost efficiencies that can be made and what resources can be brought to the people.
“Frankly, one of the frustrations that I’ve had as a voter in the town is that town has been so caught up in crisis management mode that people wonder, ‘Where’s the three-year plan, where’s the five-year plan, and what are we trying to do as community in the future?’” he added.
Turco has a sister who has lived in town for 15 years, and she inspired him to move here.
“My sister, Michele Balian, lives in the community. It’s a great community, and having lived in the area, Winthrop was a nice community that people wanted to go to. I got married in July 2004, and my wife, Melissa, and I were looking for a place to go and wanted to move to Winthrop,” he added.
The Turcos have three children, Rosario, 4, Mary, 2, and Joseph, 1.
“We have a lot to be proud of being residents of Winthrop,” said Turco. “We, as a town, need to continue to work through our problems as a community but also to say, ‘This is a wonderful place to live, and this is a place where people should want to come and live. We have beautiful views of the water, and it’s in a tremendous area.”