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Speedway’s co-owner enters race for soon-to-be vacant commissioner’s seat

The proprietor of ACE Speedway is the latest contender to thunder into the race to succeed incoming state senator Amy Scott Galey on Alamance County’s board of commissioners.

Robert Turner, who owns ACE with his son Jason, has told The Alamance News that he intends to seek Galey’s position on the county’s governing board after she takes her place in the state senate on January 1. Galey, who currently serves as the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners, was elevated to the state senate when she defeated Democrat J.D. Wooten in last month’s general election.

Under state law, the local Republican leadership is ultimately responsible for selecting someone to take over Galey’s seat for the two years that remain in her four year term on the board of commissioners. Shortly after Galey’s installation in the state senate, the Alamance County GOP’s executive committee is expected to meet in order to identify a nominee, whom the board of commissioners will then be statutorily obligated to seat on the dais.

Although Turner hasn’t previously sought public office, he acknowledges that he has become acquainted with the inner-workings of both state and local government in his role as the co-owner of ACE. The would-be commissioner concedes that he has gained much of this familiarity since the state forcibly shut down the speedway this spring due to the risk it allegedly posed for the transmission of COVID-19.

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“We’ve been really affected by the shutdown,” Turner told the newspaper on Monday, “and that’s made me really aware of things that are going on.”

A 57-year-old native of Roanoke, Virginia, Turner has lived in Alamance County since 1975 when his own father moved to the area to open a now-defunct GE manufacturing facility in Mebane. The would-be commissioner went to work for County Ford after he graduated from high school in 1981. He eventually struck out on his own as a mechanic before he landed his current gig at Darrell Allen Auto Body Shop some 18 years ago.

Turner has nurtured a lifelong passion for auto racing that culminated in his purchase of ACE Speedway about three and a half years ago. The aspiring county commissioner adds that, as the speedway’s proprietor, he has had to arbitrate among different personalities in ways that he believes have prepared him well for public office.

“I’m used to dealing with passionate people,” he said. “It’s kind of like running the sheriff’s department. You have rules that you follow, and you have to get people to abide by the rules.

“I’m very passionate about Alamance County,” he added. “There’s a lot of good people in Alamance County, and they’ve gone through a lot this year. I want to be a voice for the working class citizens of this county.”

In addition to Turner, at least six other people have already announced their candidacy for Galey’s seat on the board of commissioners. Among those who’ve formally submitted their names for consideration are local attorney Craig Turner, who currently serves as the local party’s first vice chairman; Green Level councilman Michael Trollinger; and Henry Vines, a farmer from Snow Camp who defected from the Democratic Party earlier this year.

Other contenders for the impending vacancy are retired brigadier general Blake Williams, who also serves as the vice chairman of ACC’s trustees; Burlington planning board member James Kirkpatrick; and long-time Republican Roger Parker, who briefly served on the board of commissioners after the party tapped him for another vacant position in 2016.

In his own quest for the county’s governing board, Turner said that he has lined up the support of T.L. Mann, an executive committee member who he added has agreed to nominate him when the 45-member group gathers to select Galey’s successor in January. In the meantime, Turner said he’s been reaching out to the committee’s other members in preparation for the forthcoming vote.

“The main thing I want to do is get my name out there,” he said. “I’m getting a lot of interest from the party, and we’ll just see how it goes.”

[Editor’s Note: see other prospective candidates for the appointment in last week’s (Nov. 26) edition.]

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