Gail Turner has always been a part of the farming and ranching community in southwest Oklahoma. Gail was born and raised in Lawton, attending grade school at Flower Mound School before graduating high school at MacArthur in 1973. He then attended Cameron University, concentrating in agriculture until beginning farming and ranching full-time on his own.
In the early 1980s, Gail had a quick stint in financial business before venturing into dirt construction in the mid 1980s. Gail has always had an interest in local government and decided to run for county commissioner in 1998. He won that election, began his first term as county commissioner in January 1999 and has been re-elected three consecutive terms.
Turner prides his district for their concern and awareness for safety. A harmless challenge he gave to his employees about six (6) years ago has now turned in to a huge event attracting legislators from the state capitol and all across Oklahoma. Turner’s simple challenge is now a safety program which allows them to host a community-wide BBQ/Fish Fry every year as long as there have been “NO” lost-time accidents. Hundreds of people from the community come out each year to eat and mingle in support of the District’s job performance. AUnder Turner, Comanche County District 1 (eastern district) has completed more than 700 consecutive days without a lost-time accident, and are eyeing the goal of 1,000 hours, set by Turner. “The employees take their record very seriously and are extremely proud of their accomplishment. They now hold each other accountable in every situation,” says Turner.
In addition to the safety of his district, Gail has been aggressive at the county level in changing working regulations to improve safety for ALL employees. Turner also takes great pride in providing safety to the citizens by effectively maintaining county roads, changing bridge locations and improving infrastructure.
Under Turner's guidance, District 1 has also developed an "in-house" bridge crew. The crew is able to repair and rebuild a number of bridges, 65-feet and less, in the district that would normally be completed through an outside bid, effectively saving taxpayers money. Recently, the crew completed the rebuilding of a bridge on Wolfe Road, half a mile east of 180th Road.
Turner continues to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order for Comanche County and its municipalities to stay compliant, allowing them to receive federal grants and reimbursements for disasters. One of those reimbursements, which is currently being applied, is the rebuilding of a number of minor collector roads in the eastern district due to the ice storms in 2009 and 2010. In total, road crews have completed 177 miles of oil and chip work in the district.
Another collaboration Turner is proud of is the work completed between Comanche County and the Comanche Nation. Turner said the road work completed on Bishop Road at Cache Creek, replacing the old bridge with an asphalt bridge and concrete approaches, could not have been done without the partnership with the Comanche Nation.
"It no doubt made it safer," Turner said. "It's a heavily trafficed area. I'm proud of the work and effort put in by the Comanche Nation and Comanche County to make this happen."