In November, residents of Limestone County will be choosing a new County Commissioner for District 3. James Curtis Turner is running on the Democratic ticket and would like your vote. His desire is to move the district forward, and for years, he has been as involved as possible as a concerned citizen and faithfully attending meetings held by the County Commission, the Athens City Council and others. He is a conservative, he has served his country as a member of the US Army, and he had a fascinating career at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in Chattanooga, TN. James was born in Athens and graduated from Tanner High School. He served in the US Army for six years, and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Chattanooga State College. He also earned a degree in Business Commerce from the University of Louisville. He is a dad, a grandpa, a Sunday school teacher, a member of the 100 Men Choir of the Round Island Creek Baptist Association, was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and helps with fundraising in our area for the American Cancer Society. Oh, and for those of you who are fans of Poke Sallet Follies, this past Spring James played the part of “The Banker!”
One of the things that impressed me about James is his understanding of the budget for Limestone County. He told me with a chuckle, “I just about have the thing memorized.” I have noticed that with other candidates, there was seemingly no familiarity with it and I find that problematic. I asked, as I always do, “Why should I vote for you?” As is the case with other contenders, James is a true man of faith, and has felt prayerfully led to run for this position. His love for our area is obvious, he understands “Athenian exceptionalism,” (the truth to anyone with one eye open that Athens is an amazing place to live,) and his passionate assertion that “All the communities must be strong,” is tacitly credible.
His response to my question was that he was committed to “representing all the people,” and he knows that the community, like a chain, “is only as strong as its weakest links.”He has extraordinary listening skills, something I have observed on a number of occasions, and that is something that these days is not very common. For someone who has not actually served as a commissioner, he has an excellent understanding of how the County Commission is supposed to run. “It’s not just roads, bridges and ditches,” he said, it’s about managing the County, all of it.” He has made it a point over the years to seek wisdom and knowledge from those who are actually a part of the Commission, and to learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.
However, as important as all of the things previously mentioned are, what intrigued me the most was the level of transferable skills he possesses because of his nearly 30 years at Sequoyah. For starters, Sequoyah is a much more complex type of facility than Browns Ferry, and James had to take that complexity in stride with a work schedule that could vie that of a first year med student. Being a safety oriented operator at a nuclear plant is indescribably stressful, as you are literally responsible for the lives of millions every moment you are on the clock, and then some. Everything must be triple checked. There is no room for error. Even though there are fail-safes in place to back up the fail-safes, the level of vigilance that must be maintained is grueling. Every five weeks he would undergo a re-certification program to demonstrate competency. Whenever anyone in Operations was seeking a promotion, they would have to go before a panel of experts for an exhaustive (as well as exhausting) written and oral exam. No notes, no props, but a stringent requirement that you demonstrate you know every piece of safety equipment inside and out, and that you have measurable and viable contingency plans already internalized and ready to implement, either in the wake of a disaster or in order to prevent one. In addition, there are budgets to be maintained and deadlines to meet. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does a number of audits and inspections, and, as James said, “What we did determined whether or not Sequoyah maintained its license to operate.”
Someone with this kind of commitment to exhibiting meticulous attention to detail, as well as a proven ability to “think on his feet” would be invaluable in a time of disaster, or just in everyday County life. Therefore, if you believe James Curtis Turner is the man who will best represent District 3, then please vote for him in November.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner