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Challenge to Larry Turner's mayoral candidacy to be ruled on after election

Larry Turner sits for an interview in the KUSI studios in this undated photo.
Larry Turner campaign
Larry Turner sits for an interview in the KUSI studios in this undated photo.

A legal challenge to San Diego mayoral candidate Larry Turner's qualifications to run will not be ruled on by a judge until after next month's primary election.

A recently filed lawsuit says Turner should be disqualified because he allegedly was not a resident or registered voter in the city of San Diego 30 days prior to filing his nomination papers, as required. The lawsuit alleges that Turner was primarily living in El Cajon during that period.

Turner has denied the allegations. A statement from his campaign states that he lived in Bonsall in parts of 2016 and 2017, and between 2020 and early 2023 his family stayed in Alpine, but he otherwise has lived in San Diego. Turner said that during the period in question he was living in East Village, but has since moved to Ocean Beach.


Robert Ottilie, who represents San Diego resident Helen Michelle VanDiver in the lawsuit, sought to depose Turner over his residency and have a judge rule on the issue prior to Election Day on March 5.

But San Diego Superior Court Judge James Mangione declined to rule on the issue right away. The judge noted that early voting has already gotten underway and the entire issue could be rendered moot if Turner is not one of the top two vote-getters in the primary.

An attorney who appeared in court Tuesday on behalf of the city said a procedure exists to remedy situations in which a candidate dies, is disqualified or for various other reasons is no longer a candidate after the election.

In the hypothetical event of Turner receiving the most or second-most votes in the primary election and subsequently being disqualified, the third- place vote-getter would receive his spot on the November ballot.

Mangione set a further hearing in the case for March 29.


Turner and one of his attorneys, Michael Aguirre, claimed the allegations were part of a politically motivated attack orchestrated by associates of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

"You think (VanDiver's) is the one behind this?" Aguirre told the judge. "The real party-at-interest on the other side is the mayor of San Diego."

Rachel Laing, a spokesperson for Gloria's office, said "Our office is not involved in and cannot comment on campaign-related matters."

Reached for comment, Gloria's re-election campaign issued the following statement, "The mayor has no involvement in, nor any awareness about, the allegations of Mr. Turner not being a resident of the city of San Diego. He learned about it like everybody else through the media's reporting."

Following the hearing, Turner called the lawsuit's allegations "a huge distraction" and added, "We're going to win March 5 and then we can have a chance to disprove all of this."

Ottilie said he has never spoken to Gloria or Gloria's office about the lawsuit or what he said was the central issue at the heart of the case, "the integrity of elections."

The attorney said that in a review of publicly available information, there was "no evidence" to show Turner's primary residence was in San Diego during the month leading up to filing his nomination paperwork.

"We'll find out in the deposition where he has to testify under oath as to whether he has that information to prove it. And if he does, good for him, and if he doesn't, he'll be disqualified," Ottilie said.