NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Lawsuit claims candidate Larry Turner ineligible for mayor's office over address

Resident with ties to Mayor Todd Gloria filed the legal claim
Posted at 6:52 PM, Feb 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 21:53:40-05

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The city’s mayoral race is heating up with allegations a candidate is ineligible to appear on the ballot due to his address.

Police officer Larry Turner is running for mayor of San Diego and claims to live in Ocean Beach, an address his campaign says he’s lived at since December 2023.

But a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a resident with ties to Mayor Todd Gloria claims a private investigator found evidence Turner is living in El Cajon, where he owns a home.

“There is no evidence that he lives in Ocean Beach. Let's make that clear. He may have a rental agreement there. He may be paying some money, but he's a married man with two young children and there is no evidence that he's been living there,” said attorney Bob Ottilie.

He filed the lawsuit on behalf of his client Helen Michelle VanDiver in Superior Court on Tuesday.

The legal claim is against the County’s Registrar of Voters, the San Diego City Clerk and City of San Diego. Its goal is to have any votes for Turner tossed aside.

“I think the important thing to appreciate is that if you lose the integrity of your elections, you lose democracy,” said Ottilie who added it’s too late to have Turner’s name removed from the March 5th primary ballot.

Records reviewed by Team 10 show Helen Michelle VanDiver also uses the first name Shellie. She declined to comment when reached on the phone by investigative reporter Austin Grabish Thursday.

In 2016, Mayor Todd Gloria tweeted Shellie VanDiver “Happy Birthday to a great mom, grandmother and constituent. I hope you enjoy your special day.”

A 2021 news release from Gloria’ s office announced VanDiver’s son’s appointment to the mayor’s Military, Veteran and Families Advisory Council.

Turner dismissed the lawsuit as a political attack against him.

“I've lived in San Diego pretty much my entire time that I've been back from the Marine Corps... San Diego's home. I've always had this as home. And so, yeah, I live in San Diego. I'm a San Diegan. There's nothing to it.”

Turner said he owns property near Alpine that’s used by his in-laws who live with mobility issues.

He said he moved from his apartment in East Village to Ocean Beach last December due to crime and safety concerns.

“If it is a crime and you can't run for mayor if you stayed at somebody else's place for a little bit, I don't think most of these people would be able to run either,” Turner said.

The City Clerk’s office told Team 10 it verified Turner was a registered voter in San Diego before he filed his nomination papers.

Ottilie said the case will go in front of a judge in court next week.