In District 3 race, a candidate with a controversial past attempts comeback

CHARLOTTE — A former Charlotte City Councilman found to have sexually harassed city employees is attempting to return to Charlotte City Council. A private investigator hired by the city determined Warren Turner, a Charlotte City Councilman from 2003-2011, sexually harassed female city employees. Turner declined an interview for this story.

Private investigator Valecia McDowell presented her 20 page report on her findings to Charlotte City Council on April 26, 2010. The city attorney’s office was not able to produce the report via a records request by publication time. However, minutes from the April 26 meeting are online and include McDowell’s detailed report to city council that evening LINK- https://codelibrary.amlegal.com/codes/CharlotteNC/latest/m/2010/4/26

According to Channel 9′s coverage in 2010, McDowell’s report spelled out the allegations against Turner. She said a woman who works for the city said Turner sexually harassed her three times, that he told her “you need a real man,” that he found out she was engaged and said “he needs to come and talk to me so I can give him advice on how to deal with you,” and that Turner touched her.

McDowell said another city employee said Turner said something sexually explicit when they walked past a store selling pornography and another worker told investigators Turner said “if I wasn’t married—” but that she cut him off before he could finish.”

McDowell’s report also found Turner physically threatened a female police cadet in the late 80s when Turner was in the police academy before he got kicked out.

Turner denied wrongdoing at the time. Channel 9′s Government Reporter Joe Bruno reached out to Turner for an interview on July 26, requesting an interview between then and August 23rd to discuss the race. His campaign manager, Toni Emehel, told Bruno that Turner “does not currently have any time in his schedule for 1:1 interviews.”

When asked through email if Turner has any comments on the sexual harassment investigation findings, his campaign manager did not directly comment on them.

“Warren looks forward to continuing his service to the City of Charlotte and to the community where he has lived for more than 50 years,” Emehel said.

Turner is running against Tiawana Brown, a community activist and nonprofit leader, and Melinda Lilly, the former chair of the LGBTQ Democrats of Mecklenburg County.

Brown, who was formerly incarcerated in the 90s and now runs Beauty after Bars which supports women getting out of prison, says Turner owes District 3 an explanation.

“When you don’t answer to the call of duty, when you don’t answer to what the constituents want to know, when not responding to allegations, people write their own story,” Brown said. “When you have a huge allegation out like that and there’s no response to the community and then you show up 13 years later, we’re going to have questions.”

Lilly says her focus is on the race.

“I think with any candidate, it’s important that folks feel comfortable with that person representing them and making decisions that are going to impact their lives,” Lilly said.

District 3 runs from part of South End to Steele Creek and includes much of west Charlotte.

>>>Bruno talks to Brown and Lilly about their priorities and motivations to run for the seat on this Sunday’s episode of the Political Beat. You can watch on WSOC at 12:35 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. and on TV64 at 10:35 p.m.

(WATCH BELOW: PART 1 -- The Political Beat with Channel 9′s Joe Bruno (August 20, 2023)

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