LaWana Mayfield, pictured here during an April City Council meeting discussing the airport and the city’s airport advisory committee. Photo Credit: Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer.
LaWana Mayfield, pictured here during an April City Council meeting discussing the airport and the city’s airport advisory committee.
Photo Credit:
Robert Lahser/Charlotte Observer.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Local organizers affiliated with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, gave City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield a kickstart to her 2013 re-election campaign at a private fundraiser on May 11.

Mayfield, a Democrat representing District 3 and first elected in 2011, is running for re-election this year. She is the city’s first and only openly LGBT elected official.

“I think it is important to have that voice at the table,” said Scott Bishop, who hosted the fundraiser at his home with his partner. “It is important to have anyone from the LGBT community at the table and representing our viewpoint.”

Bishop, a longtime HRC supporter and member of the group’s national board of governors, is also chair of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC).

Mayfield raised more than $47,000 for her 2011 race. A $2,000 contribution from the national Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which endorsed Mayfield, was her single largest contribution that year. A $1,000 contribution from MeckPAC was the third largest, following a $1,400 contribution from Democratic Women of North Carolina.

It isn’t clear whether Mayfield will be endorsed by the Victory Fund this year; the group says it does not pre-announce any of its endorsements. HRC does not regularly issue endorsements in local races, though national officials of the group have encouraged local organizers to rally around Mayfield’s campaign.

The private fundraiser in May hoped to raise as much as $10,000 to Mayfield’s 2013 campaign.

Essential presence

Bishop said Mayfield is a longtime friend.

“I want to support my friends in their endeavors,” he said. “I have watched what she has done on City Council and I am encouraged by her successes. I want to see that continue.”

Bishop said Mayfield’s presence on Council was essential during conversations on some LGBT issues last year. City Manager Curt Walton included domestic partner benefits in the budget Council approved in June 2012. Walton also amended his human resources policies to include transgender city workers in non-discrimination protections.

Yet, City Council has not addressed other issues, like LGBT-inclusive amendments to the city’s Commercial Non-Discrimination Ordinance. It has been more than two decades since Council took a vote on a stand-alone LGBT-inclusive measure.

Bishop said MeckPAC plans to address that and other issues with candidates and elected officials this year.

LGBT record questioned

Some former supporters have voiced reservations about Mayfield’s record and are less enthused with her campaign this election cycle. The out official made several missteps last year, disappointing some of her LGBT supporters.

Mayfield told LGBT citizens last year that City Council would not take a position on the state’s anti-LGBT constitutional amendment, saying it was an issue that didn’t affect the city. She also said that City Council “has never taken a stance on anything that comes out of Raleigh,” despite the body’s regular adoption of a state legislative agenda. In earlier statements on a qnotes candidate questionnaire, Mayfield said she would support adding LGBT-inclusive provisions, including a statement on the amendment, to the city’s legislative priorities.

Last fall, Mayfield endorsed an anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic religious leader whose organization the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group. At the time, she refused to make an on-the-record statement distancing herself from the leader or his record of anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic comments. Since that report, Mayfield has not responded to requests from qnotes for comment on a variety of issues.

It doesn’t seem Mayfield will face a primary challenger or Republican opponent. Filing doesn’t officially begin until July. : :

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.