BUCKFIELD — Timothy Turner of Buckfield never expected to see his name on the ballot for Oxford County commissioner.
A retired Maine State Police trooper, Turner was committed to keeping out of the race until he learned the seat in question specifically oversaw funding and contract negotiations with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is something I know about,” the Republican candidate said. “Law enforcement has a language. I know why they buy the tires they buy, the cars they buy. I speak the language.”
It’s been a busy two years for Turner, who months after rising to chair the county’s Republican party, saw himself nominated by the caucus for the comissioner’s seat. He was appointed chairman after Diane Jackson, wife of outgoing Commissioner Caldwell Jackson of Oxford, withdrew after the June primary elections.
Turner sees ending the county’s contract dispute with deputies over wages by brokering a salary increase somewhere between the two figures proffered by each side.
If ranked by total expenditures, the Sheriff’s Department is easily the largest single source of county spending at $1.85 million. It has previously been suggested that commissioners have offered deputies, who have been without a contract since 2011, a $1 per hour raise, while union representatives have demanded $3 per hour.
“I live paycheck to paycheck, too, but we’re asking guys to put on bulletproof vests and take a gun to work,” he said.
Turner, a fiscal conservative, is keen to keep the tax rate flat.
If elected, he said he would continue with current approaches to spending revenue from the Oxford Casino, which has favored offsetting year-to-year budget spikes.
“County government is nuts and bolts,” he said. “There are no social issues. It’s all budgets and contracts. If this chair didn’t spearhead talks with the (Sheriff’s) Department, I wouldn’t do it. I’ve got the skill set already.”
Turner joined Maine State Police in 1986, following a “family calling” — his brother was also a state trooper — and retired in 2011. A former football coach, Turner works as the assistant director of security for Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.
“I learned how to talk to people in politics from my police work,” he said.