PHOTO: Charlotte Observer
Excellent news to report on a story that we've followed at Rod 2.0: LaWana Mayfield has won her race for Charlotte City Council. Mayfield becomes the first openly LGBT elected official in North Carolina's largest city.
Mayfield was one of the 9 Democrats swept to victory last night on the 11-member council, reports the Charlotte Observer. Mayfield had 78.1 percent to 21.6 percent for Republican Ed Toney. The 41-year-old lesbian community organizer won her primary in September, ousting four-term incumbent Warren Turner to represent District 3.
Turner had 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.
[Mayfield] later had to distance herself from attack ads mailed to District 3 voters by the Raleigh-based group Common Sense Matters. The group, headed by openly gay Raleigh businessman Alan King, paid $14,227 for the fliers. Despite the short-lived controversy over King’s attack ads, Mayfield led an otherwise strong campaign focused solely in issues she said her constituents cared about. Foremost on their minds, she said, was property values, economic growth and public safety.
Mayfield had won endorsements from the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, Mecklenburg County Black Political Caucus, this newspaper,The Charlotte Post and The Charlotte Observer. In July, she received a national endorsement from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
"This is a big step forward. We’re thrilled for LaWana and the Charlotte LGBT community, and really proud to have played a part in this history-making night," said Denis Dison, the Victory Fund’s vice president for communications. "Electing out local officials makes cities like Charlotte more welcoming to LGBT families, and it sends a message that voters are fair-minded."
Mayfield becomes North Carolina's second Black LGBT elected official. Greensboro's Marcus Brandon is one of three Black gay male legislators currently serving in the nation.
LaWana Mayfield's victory brings renewed focus on Charlotte's record on LGBT issues as the city prepares to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Charlotte has the distinction of being the state's only major city to lack protections for gay employees. There are also no statewide protections for LGBT citizens or employees in North Carolina. Tarheel voters will also consider a constitutional ban on any same-sex partner recognition in May 2012.