Winthrop Town Council President Jeffrey Turco will announce at a reception tonight that he is a candidate for re-election and is looking forward to getting his message out to residents in the weeks leading up to the election in November.
If the large turnout at his campaign event during the holiday season last December is any indication, there should be many supporters in attendance, including some of Turco’s colleagues on the Town Council and School Committee.
“Most of the Council and the School Committee are supporting me and I’m honored by that,” said Turco. “I think that’s a reflection of the fact that I collaborate and I work with people to get things done for the town.”
A relative newcomer to the town, Turco defeated two other candidates in the 2009 election. He ran an aggressive door-to-door campaign and many felt he performed very well in a televised debate of the three candidates.
“I told people why I was running and why I believed we could do better in the town and that we could move the town forward and I think that message resonated with people,” said Turco. “
Turco cites numerous accomplishments during his two years as president. He has established his own footprint on the town’s most powerful elected position and contributed new ideas to both the Council and the School Committee (The Council President has a seat on the School Committee).
“One of our top accomplishments is the consolidation of school and municipal services,” said Turco. “I talked during the campaign of breaking down the walls between the school district and the town and I think that anyone who looks at it objectively will say that it’s been done. The fact that the town manager and the superintendent of schools collaborate on an almost daily basis is wonderful for the town and the school district.”
The 6-foot-6-inch town leader is proud of bringing fiscal accountability to the school department.
“There is transparency so the public knows that when the budget numbers are rolled out, they know that we’re speaking truthfully and the shell games that occurred in previous years are gone,” said Turco. “That’s evidenced by the fact that we adjusted the school budget over the last two years by nearly a million dollars and there wasn’t one layoff in the school district.”
He also takes pride in the increased participation of students in school sports.
“It really is an amazing accomplishment, the fact that we’ve been able to boost sports participation as much as we can by partnering with Viking Pride and by stopping the user fee increases that the old School Committee proposed – and lowering them. When I first joined the Committee, it was proposing to raise the athletic fee to $597 per kid per sport. Now it’s down to $225 and that’s because Todd Sacco and I spoke up and said working families can’t afford it.”
Turco feels he has brought an independent voice to town government. “I’m not beholden to anybody – I came and I called them like I saw them.”
Turco said there have been a few disagreements during Council meetings, but councilors have worked amicably and with the town’s best interests in mind.
“Any time you put nine people and put issues before them, and some contentious ones, clearly you’re going to have disagreement, but we do it for the most part without being personally disagreeable.”
Turco said he has developed a good professional relationship with Town Manager James McKenna. “We’ve developed a good partnership working toward the interest of the town. That doesn’t mean we agree on every issue and we might have stylistic differences about how we get things done but Jim is committed to the community, believes in Winthrop and a better Winthrop as do I. Because we both start with that as a common premise, it’s easy to work together and get things done.”
During the campaign ahead Turco said he will focus on his record of accomplishment the last two years. “By necessity when you’re campaigning for re-election, you have to talk about your accomplishments, but really it’s an understatement to say that the accomplishments that have taken place are the School Committee’s, the Town Council’s, and the town manager’s – if you didn’t have the majority of those town boards and a town manager working with you, none of the accomplishments would have taken place.”
Turco said he is looking forward to debating Peter Gill, the other announced candidate in the race. “I’m going to be calling for the Chamber of Commerce to sponsor two debates. I think the issues are so great in town that I think the public deserves to hear us on more than one occasion. We should have one debate that focuses solely on education and one debate that focuses solely on the town itself and the issues facing the town.”