State Rep. Larry Turner's widow says she'll seek his seat - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

State Rep. Larry Turner's widow says she'll seek his seat

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The widow of District 85 State Representative Larry Turner says she'll seek her late husband's seat.
Most people don't know the 26-year representative brought his wife four dozen roses each time he returned home to Memphis from his work in the state capitol. And they don't know he sang her love songs on long road trips.

Now, Jonnie Turner hopes to forge a new legacy through the mission of public service she shared with her husband.

"I never expected him to leave me. I never expected him to die," she said. "We had made all kinds of plans for the things we were going to do."

Turner has been the Memphis NAACP Executive Director for 14 years.

The civil rights leader celebrated her 44th wedding anniversary just one week before her husband's death November on 27.

"It was like we could read each other's minds or finish each other's sentences, and that was on so many levels," said Turner. "We both liked jazz. We liked everything. He could tell a corny joke and I could laugh."

Over the last few weeks, political leaders have been courting Turner to serve the remaining 11 months of her late husband's term.

"It had just never hit my radar screen," she said.

But Turner recalled her husband's words when she was approached to lead the NAACP.

"I said, 'No. Nobody can replace Maxine Smith.'  He said, 'you can'."

Now, at a similar crossroad, Turner said she believes her husband would tell her to "go for it."

And she said her husband's works often complimented her own.

"One of the greatest successes he has had was the passage of the predatory lending bill, which was an issue that was very near and dear to the heart of the Memphis branch," Turner said.
And after all the years she spent at her husband's side, often as his campaign manager, she understands the rigors of politics.

"It's a different world. I understand that, but I believe I'm up to the task," she said. "I believe that I can handle it or I would not have sought the appointment."
Though she's still grieving, Turner says seeking her husband's seat is somehow therapeutic.
On January 11th, the Shelby County Commission will appoint Larry Turner's replacement.

If appointed, Johnnie Turner will take a leave of absence from the NAACP.

The General Assembly starts on the 12th.

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