Four years ago, Charlotte’s District 3 Democratic primary was in many ways a referendum on the incumbent, Warren Turner.
This year’s contest features Turner and the candidate who beat him, LaWana Mayfield, as well as newcomer Rosa Hodge-Mustafa.
Mayfield is running for a third term on city council in the west Charlotte district that stretches from Freedom Drive and Mount Holly Road in the north to Lake Wylie in the south. Home to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, it includes pockets of west side poverty and thriving new commercial and residential areas in the southwest.
The Democratic primary winner faces Republican Eric Netter in November.
But nearly six in 10 of the district’s voters are Democrats. They outnumber Republicans 6-1. Even unaffiliated voters outnumber Republicans more than 2-1.
Fifty-four percent of voters are African American.
Mayfield says the district has improved during her tenure. Among other things she points to the opening of Charlotte Premium Outlet along Interstate 485 and new developments off Tyvola Road and Wilkinson Boulevard.
“We’ve moved the needle a little, but there’s still work to do,” she says.
A former community organizer, Mayfield says she devotes full time to the district. She’s running again, she says, to continue economic development and increase public safety. While she’s seen new development in neighborhoods such as Wilmore and along West Boulevard, she wants to ensure that long-time residents don’t become victims of gentrification.
Where Mayfield sees a glass half-full, Turner sees it half-empty. He served four terms in council.
“The things I accomplished in eight years have not been maintained, they’ve fallen into disrepair,” he says, citing garbage “literally everywhere.”
Turner, a state probation officer, says some neighborhoods still lack amenities such as grocery stores. Affordable housing is insufficient. Crime is still a problem. Senior citizens worry about taxes.
Hodge-Mustafa, who lives in the Forest Pawtuckett area, says the area has seen little in the way of economic development.
“We haven’t seen the change we thought we were going to see,” she says. “We just haven’t seen a lot of economic development flow this way.
Like Turner, she opposes the current streetcar project. Mayfield supports it.
Turner’s final term was marred by accusations of sexual harassment. In 2010, a city investigation found that he’d made sexually inappropriate comments to at least five female staff members.
The City Council declined to censure him, but a subsequent investigation by the N.C. Department of Correction found that Turner missed numerous meetings with probationers. He was fired, though reinstated in 2012.
Of the harassment allegation, Turner says, “It was a lie then it will be a lie now.”
“I’m not going to give into you guys trying to hijack the campaign based on false allegations,” he says. “I’m done with that part of my life. I had to live through that humiliation. I’m still here despite a lot of folks that hate me. I’m still here.”
Hometown: Miami (moved to Charlotte at 18).
Family: Partner, Gelisa
Education: Attended Central Piedmont Community College
Occupation: Former Mecklenburg County project coordinator for Grassroots Leadership; previously worked at the Red Cross.
Politics: Elected 2011 and 2013.
Hometown: Martinsville, Va. (moved to Charlotte 16 years ago).
Family: Divorced; one grown child.
Education: BA in communications, Shaw University.
Occupation: Worked in the banking and mortgage industries.
Politics: This is her first campaign as a candidate.
Hometown: Born in York County (moved to Charlotte as a child).
Family: Wife, Shawn, one daughter.
Education: BA in political science, Fayetteville State University, 1988.
Occupation: Chief probation officer, N.C. Department of Public Safety.
Politics: City Council, 2003 to 2011.