Mike Turner is running for Superior Court judge of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.
Turner works as a tax referee for the Washington State Board of Tax Appeal. He has worked as an attorney in Southwest Washington since 1983.
Turner served as public defender and as a member of the drug court board. He also was a municipal court judge for local cities, and acted as a substitute judge in Superior Court.
Turner ran for the Superior Court judge seat in 2016, and lost to Doug Goelz by a margin of 50.3 percent to 49.7, or 77 votes out of a total of 11,409 cast in the two counties. Goelz retired after a brief time in office.
Q: Your opponent is the incumbent, and while he was appointed not elected, he is in the office and already working for the community. Why should people get rid of something that is working for them?
A: Because you can get something better.
Q: What do you have to offer?
A: I’ve got extensive experience — I’ve got 20 years of judicial experience.
I’ve got 30 years, — over 30 years — of legal experience. I’ve got a broad base of personal experience in all sorts of different areas: working for Fortune 500 Companies; working for small family businesses; truck driver; clerk. I’ve done a lot of different things.
And I’ve got extensive experience in our little southwest corner of Washington state. I was born here, raised here.
I’ve lived most of my life here. I’ve worked with and served the people in this area most of my life. And I think I understand the people, the culture, the values, and I think it’s important that a judge does understand the values. Judicial discretion should be exercised to be compatible with community values and expectations.
Decisions can be made on a spectrum. And within that spectrum a decision can be more compatible or less compatible with the community.
And I think that a court that makes decisions that are more compatible is going to have more acceptance. The community is going to be more comfortable with those decisions. And then the court is seen as being fair and, in their eyes being fair — making decisions that they think fit.
Q: What are some of the values of the Pacific and Wahkiakum communities?
A: Well, we’ve got a lot of what I would say are strong, strong-minded, independent, self-reliant people. That’s what their expectations are and that’s the kind of community they live in. It’s a community that pulls together. It’s really wonderful watching the way the community pulls — communities, all of them — pull together when a family is having problems. And the community pulls together, supports them. Communities all work to make sure that that we’ve got activities for the kids to do productive things — soccer, baseball, all of the different activities. It’s not just sports but other activities, too.
And so we value the children and we value independence. And making our own decisions.
Q: With the opioid epidemic, do you believe the community needs more treatment resources or more law enforcement resources?
A: I don’t think I can answer that question the way it’s asked because in my role as a judge, I certainly would advocate for any alternatives to eliminate drug use, because that is the root of the problem. But my role as the judge is when the situation comes before the court to deal with it within the parameters of the law as it exists.
That doesn’t mean I don’t strongly support drug court; I think that’s a really good option.
But … it’s not going to eliminate the problem because too many people are not in drug court at the right time, so that they’re not successful. But I have seen situations where somebody went into drug court, they failed drug court, but they got the tools. They got a step along the way so that after they completed whatever their consequence was for not being able to complete drug court, they went out and got clean.
And that’s my goal. I mean another piece of drug court from my point of view is that I believe the people are under stricter supervision under drug court then they would be if we just sentenced them to six months or nine months in jail — and then release them with no effort to see if they’re ready to make a change. And during drug court I think their usage, even if they are relapsing, is not as uncontrolled and not as dangerous for the community. Doesn’t mean I like it, doesn’t mean I agree with it, but it’s a fact of life.
So what it comes down to is I really think there’s some validity on both sides. I mean we need the drug task force. We need to make sure that people have consequences so that they know they can’t just freely go out and use whatever they want and impact our community. So we need to continue to work on that. But we also need to continue to work on the root problem, which is eliminating the reasons people want to use the drugs. And we’re never going to eliminate it completely, but we need to keep working on it.
Q: Go at it from supply and demand?
A: I’m not an expert, so I can’t tell you whether the medical community are just being overly optimistic that it’s a medical problem and you can treat with medical treatment and that takes care of it.
Again, I don’t think as a judge it’s my role to be a medical expert. And therefore I need to rely on the doctors, the treatment professionals. But I also need to rely on the law enforcement professionals for getting a complete picture and as many facts as possible to come up with the solution that’s most likely going to get to as much of the root problem as we can get to.
Q: What is your greatest professional or personal accomplishment?
A: My greatest personal accomplishment is the support that I have been able to give my daughter and the growth I’ve seen in her with the support I’m able to give her.
Q: What’s she doing nowadays?
Raising three kids. Small kids. Seven, five and almost four.