Democrat LaWana Mayfield has announced her candidacy for the Charlotte City Council. The 41-year-old community organizer is an out lesbian and could become the city's first openly LGBT council member.
Mayfield is challenging four-term incumbent Warren Turner in the September 13 primary for District 3 in southwest Charlotte. The district leans heavily Democratic and Turner ran unopposed in his last two elections.
Turner has a history of making homophobic and sexist comments, as well as several complaints of sexual harassment. Turner was accused last year of asking employees and a fellow council member if a council staffer was a lesbian. Turner was eventually fired from his position as a probation officer with the North Carolina Department of Corrections.
"I’m not taking on the incumbent," Mayfield told QNotes, the local LGBT newspaper. "I’m running for this seat because I believe I am the best candidate to represent the diversity of District 3. My campaign is not a campaign against an individual but is a campaign for maintaining real estate values, injecting economic development and increasing community safety."
Mayfield was one of several candidates endorsed last week by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. She would become Charlotte's first openly elected official and is only the fourth openly LGBT candidate to run for local office. Creative Loafing profiled Mayfield earlier this month and asked "Why don’t more openly gay candidates seek political office in Charlotte?"
There has been a renewed focus on Charlotte's record on LGBT issues as the city prepares to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention There are no statewide protections for LGBT citizens or employees in North Carolina. The city council has also refused to update local anti-discrimination policies to include LGBT. North Carolina voters could also see a constitutional marriage ban on the 2012 ballot.