Monte Sereno councilor files $1 million in damages for discrimination and harassment – ​​The Mercury News

Councilman Rowena Turner is suing the city of Monte Sereno for damages totaling $1 million for alleged harassment and discrimination by former and current councilors after she was accused of illegally voting in Oregon.

Monte Sereno Councilman Rowena Turner, who was convicted of illegal voting in Oregon, insists she is innocent.  (File photo)
Monte Sereno Councilman Rowena Turner, who was convicted of illegal voting in Oregon, insists she is innocent. (File photo)

The Republican councilor filed the claim with the city in May, stating that Mayor Javed Ellahie, former councilors Marshall Anstand, Lionel Allan and current councilor Bryan Mekechuk assaulted her “on or about September 2020” in an attempt to remove her from the council. to delete.

The Council discussed the claim in closed session at a June 21 meeting, ultimately voting to dismiss it as “untimely,” Ellahie said after the closed session ended.

The complaint alleges “a conspiracy to assault and defame Ms. Turner on the basis of false claims that she had committed felony and perjury by violating California and Oregon electoral laws, allegations that were demonstrably false and defamatory.”

Turner was convicted in 2021 for voting in both California and Oregon in the November 2018 general elections. Election records show Turner voted in more than a dozen elections in both states from 2004 through the 2020 primaries.

Allegations of her vote in two states came to light in 2020, when voting and electoral integrity came under intense scrutiny. Turner’s conviction received public attention in 2022 after the Oregon newspaper Grants Pass Daily Courier published a story about her conviction.

Turner said in the complaint she would take further legal action if the issue was not resolved. Turner’s attorney, Randal Barnum, could not be reached for comment in time for publication.

Barnum alleges in the complaint that the “discrimination and harassment” Turner faced violated the city’s Monte Sereno handbook. Turner and former councilor Daniel LaBouve filed written complaints in 2020, and Turner’s current complaint states that the city has done nothing in response.

After LaBouve resigned from the board in September 2020, Ellahie forwarded LaBouve’s resignation letter to Mekechuk, AnSTAND and Allan, to which AnStand replied, “One down, one more to go! Rowena is next!”

In October, Mekechuk emailed the Oregon Secretary of State to investigate Turner’s voting history, while Ellahie and Councilman Shawn Leuthold contacted the city attorney, who ultimately advised against attempting to remove Turner from the council because it violate her civil rights.

The Council held a public discussion of the allegations against Turner at its October 20, 2021 council meeting, where it was determined that no further action could be taken.

The complaint states that Turner, 74, is “actively looking for work”, but the negative press and attention following her conviction “have ensured that no employer will hire her”. She is also asking $46,775 to cover her attorney fees.

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