KENT: Robin Turner said he didn’t fully understand the retirement consequences of running for City Council two years ago.
But his elected post has brought him to his 25th year as a public employee, and the only way he can collect benefits due him through the Public Employees Retirement System is to give up his at-large seat.
Citing the technicality, Turner resigned last week, adding that there is a “very strong possibility” that he will run for office again next year when he can legally collect a pension and sit on the council.
Turner said he’s proud of what the city has accomplished during his tenure, and proud of the issues he advocated for, even though he was on the losing end of some of those efforts.
Still, “I feel I have not met the objectives I established for myself,” he said, explaining why he may run when Kent’s three at-large seats are up for grabs again in 2013.
Turner was first appointed to the council in 2008 after the death of longtime councilman Bill Schultz.
“Bill was a close friend of mine and a mentor, and he suggested to me if he had to leave office, maybe I should seek the position,” Turner said.
The majority of the council agreed, and he was appointed over 15 other applicants.
Turner successfully ran to retain his seat in 2009.
Because Turner spent 20.5 years with the Portage County Auditor’s Office — he left in 1997 as director of the Weights and Measures Department — his 4½ years on the council brought him the 25 years needed to retire.
“It wasn’t anything that really registered,” Turner said of his decision to run for office. “But anybody who retires has to leave or separate from their position, and my position happens to be of a public official.”
Turner was the city’s most public face in 2011 when nearly 250 elderly residents were evicted from Silver Oaks Place, a retirement community sold to a student housing developer.
He rallied with the residents and helped advocate for those who needed more time to relocate.
“It was a proud moment for me to be able to champion their cause when their community was torn asunder,” Turner said.
He publicly opposed measures to increase inspections of owner-occupied dwellings and the registration of all rental property. City Council passed those efforts, “but I was proud I stood up and fought what I saw as more intrusive government.”
Turner has sought to use his influence to push job training programs and try to get the city to hire local workers for tax-funded projects.
He said he was also thrilled to be part of the city’s effort to transform downtown.
Despite the recession, city staff, public officials, Kent State University and private developers have teamed up on a $100 million makeover that has “made downtown one of the envies of Northeast Ohio, if not the state.”
“Along with the people of Kent who backed us up on that, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” Turner said.
City Council will accept applications for Turner’s seat, which expires at the end of 2013, beginning Monday.
Applications are due by 4 p.m. on Nov. 20, with interviews and an appointment likely on Nov. 28.
A link to an application is expected to be available beginning Monday at www.kent ohio.org.