Turner to challenge Walker for 1st Ward alderman


Longtime community activist and public safety advocate the Rev. Jesse Turner has officially entered the race for Pine Bluff City Council Ward 1 alderman as an independent.

“City business is the people’s business and it’s time to re-establish good leadership with common sense in the 1st Ward,” Turner said in a press release. “My education has put me in position to become a successful alderman by expanding on my present work in the community.”

Turner has a master’s degree in community economic development for Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, New Hamphire.

“Education has provided me with the ability to solve problems and not create them,” Turner said in the press release. “I have learned how to organize, research issues and analyze problems before moving forward. It is very critical that I utilize my education and community-building skills to improve the quality of life for those in the 1st Ward and all the citizens of Pine Bluff.”

Turner is executive director of Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Inc., which formerly facilitated the U.S. Department of Justice Weed and Seed program in Pine Bluff. Among other projects, ICVR has long organized the monthly Coffee with the Chiefs program, which brings together clergy, members of the public, city officials and law enforcement.

“My neighborhood-building experience has taught me that working together works,” Turner said in the press release, adding that the public wants responsive action from its leadership, not partisan politics.

ICVR also facilitates several youth initiatives.

“I’m running on my record of helping youngsters, senior citizens, adults and the city,” Turner said in the release. “A record of providing programs such as the ICVR King Team, the Pen or Pencil initiative, free income tax preparation through our IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance initiative, which returned to low- to moderate-income citizens this year $483,000 at no cost to them for utilizing our services. The programs I continue to provide are always free and available to everyone regardless of color or political association.”

Turner said he plans to attend every council meeting and plans to hold scheduled committee meetings of any committee he chairs. Public safety, basic services, housing, youth programs, communication with the public and being pro-business will be his priorities, he said.

“Our current council member Thelma Walker is totally out of touch with the constituents, local businesses and the needs of our city,” Turner said the release. “My educational background, community leadership experience and training in crime prevention are necessary credentials for me to be an effective, common-sense alderman. I encourage the citizens in the 1st Ward to look at both of our records of accomplishments and make a judgement on who can serve them best by using our works to determine who can get the job done.”

Turner also attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and went to elementary school and high school in Pine Bluff. He is pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church. He currently serves on the city’s Crime Advisory Commission.

Walker won the Democratic primary election for her seat in May. She is seeking a fourth term on the council. She is chairwoman of city council’s Economic Development Committee. She also operates the Pine Bluff Adult Day Care Center in Pine Bluff.

Walker and Turner will face off in the Nov. 4 general election. Any other potential opponents have until noon Friday, Aug. 15, to file to run for the seat.