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GOP chooses ex-school official to replace Turner

December 16, 2014

A former central Indiana school superintendent will serve the two-year term of former state Rep. Eric Turner, who resigned last month after being the subject of a state ethics investigation.

Republican Party precinct committee members chose 63-year-old Tony Cook during a Monday night caucus to serve out Turner's term, The Herald Bulletin reported.

Cook is the former superintendent of Hamilton Heights Schools.

"I'm excited and ready to go," the former Hamilton Heights School Corp. superintendent told the precinct gathering.

Cook was the only person to declare his candidacy to replace Turner. He said his career in education, including managing multimillion dollar budgets and communicating with the public, has helped him develop the skills needed to be a successful lawmaker.

State Rep. Kathy Richardson, who encouraged Cook to seek Turner's vacant seat, said Cook's career has "prepared him well" to represent Turner's former House district.

Turner became the focus of a House ethics investigation earlier this year after he privately lobbied lawmakers to kill legislation that could have cost his family's nursing home business millions of dollars.

A House ethics investigation determined that Turner did not technically violate any rules. But Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma later removed Turner from leadership and promised major reforms designed to restore public trust in the Legislature.

Turner announced he would resign from office prior to November's election but still won easily over Democrat Bob Ashley.

Turner took a job with Equip Leadership Inc., an Atlanta-based not-for-profit organization specializing in mentoring and equipping Christian leaders.

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