SALEM — Police Chief Paul Tucker was 54 when he decided to run a half-marathon last year with his son, Dan, a Salem detective and former college runner.
Tucker trained for the event, the longest distance he had ever attempted, by running 60 miles a week. He finished with an impressive time and ahead of his son.
Years earlier, when he was a sergeant taking the captain’s exam, he studied almost every day in his off hours at Winter Island, often in six-hour stretches. He topped the exam and was named captain, jumping over the rank of lieutenant.
And while he was captain of detectives, he went to law school and passed the bar.
Now, after five years as chief, he is the first person to announce for state representative, seeking to succeed John Keenan, who announced this week that he will step down after 10 years at the Statehouse.
So what drives Tucker? Is it pure and simple ambition?
When he hears the word, Tucker winces. He doesn’t like the word “ambition,” concerned it sounds like someone who will do anything to get ahead, climbing over anything or anyone in the way.
He prefers dedication and determination.
“I have a thing,” he said, after a slight pause during an interview yesterday in the chief’s office at Police Headquarters. “I never want to embarrass myself. ... I ran 60 miles a week because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. ... It’s that kind of focus that drives me.”
While campaigning for state representative, Tucker said he plans to stay on as chief.
“I have no doubt I can do both,” he said. “I’ve dedicated my life to this job. I’m not going to walk away from it.”
Asked if he is concerned about possible conflicts of interest — accepting donations, for example, from someone whose family might be dealing with the police department — he said he realizes he is facing a “unique set of circumstances,” but he stressed that he places his own integrity above all else.