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Cloverdale Mayor Jason Turner abruptly resigns, citing professional opportunity

Cloverdale Mayor Jason Turner announced his sudden resignation in a letter Monday night to the City Council, leaving a vacancy in the five-member panel and elevating Vice Mayor Marta Cruz, at least for the moment, as the city’s first Latina mayor.

Turner cited “an incredible opportunity” in his professional career, but said the opportunity necessitated his immediate resignation. The decision was a difficult one, he said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.

A promotion at work opened up the opportunity to earn more income for his family and advance his career, Turner said, but would not leave him time to serve as an effective mayor. He had to act immediately or lose the opportunity, he said.

“There’s never a good time to step away from commitment and I’m very empathetic to that,” Turner said. “Though it was never my intention I’m going to cause some level of hardship for Cloverdale because they’re going to have to take the necessary steps to replace me.”

Turner works in human resources, he said, but declined to name his employer. He also declined, for now, to elaborate on his new position, because he did not want to get ahead of the company, he said.

“I really need to make sure I can support my family and take the necessary steps to make sure my earning potential is ultimately as high as it can be,” said the 33-year-old father of two young children.

Turner was appointed mayor by his fellow council members in December 2020. He last faced voters in 2018, when he finished second in the vote count behind Cruz.

As vice mayor, Cruz is now acting mayor for the city, she said in a phone interview. The City Council will decide whether to hold a special election or appoint a replacement for Turner, Cruz said.

Turner’s announcement came as a surprise. “I was a little disappointed because I feel he should have talked to me because I had to take over and I learned just like everybody else,” she said.

The City Council will debate whether to hold a special election, take applications for the seat and then appoint a replacement, or select the next highest vote getter from the most recent election, Cruz said.

Turner hoped the council could agree on an appointment process, he said, rather than pay for a special election. “It was never my intention to have that level of fiscal impact on the municipality that I truly love,” he said.

Improving regulatory clarity for industry and Resilient Cloverdale, a disaster readiness initiative, were two of his proudest achievements as mayor, Turner said.

“I will genuinely miss the personal conversations with constituents about fears, about ideas,” he said. There was no hidden reason behind his sudden announcement, he said.

“There is nothing else going on, there’s no ill will towards any of my colleagues and there’s no ill will towards anybody in the county,” he said.

Cruz is the city’s first Latina councilwoman and for now its first Latina mayor.

Cruz seeks to establish whether her appointment to serve out the remainder of Turner’s term in the mayor’s seat will deny her a shot at the full two-year rotation, she said.

That will be a “conversation” with her fellow city leaders, Cruz said. “I believe I could be an excellent and proactive and reliable mayor,” she said.

Cruz was nearly passed over for the vice mayor’s chair in December in a political slight that raised questions about bias facing Latino political leaders in the city and Sonoma County.

Announcement - Resignation of Councilmember, Mayor Jason Turner.pdf

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

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