ENCINITAS — In an effort to stem the tide of election toxicity, both Encinitas’ mayoral candidates — Mayor Catherine Blakespear and challenger Julie Thunder — have committed to signing a pledge to run clean campaigns, taking an important step toward inspiring civility and honest discourse among candidates and residents.
The Clean Campaign Pledge, established by The Coast News, is a series of nonpartisan guideposts and practices for North County’s upcoming election season.
As discussed in a two-part podcast series on The Coast News’ North County Beat, this year’s election cycle has seen an increase in social and political conflicts among residents, through both in-person protests and social media confrontations.
According to Sheriff’s Capt. Herbert Taft, the increasing vitriol exists on a spectrum from simple disagreements to hate speech and violent threats, some of which are safeguarded by the First Amendment.
In episode one, released on September 4, North County Beat podcast host Kelli Kyle and reporter Caitlin Steinberg examined the ways residents are getting in confrontations, whether 2020 is as uniquely toxic as it feels, and discussed the devolving discourse on online spaces including Facebook.
For the second episode, released on Friday, September 18, the podcast examines the consequences of political mudslinging and possible solutions, featuring in-depth interviews with both Blakespear and Thunder and introducing The Coast News’ Clean Campaign pledge (see below).
Both Blakespear and Thunder shared their personal experiences with destructive and violent rhetoric, solutions for having hard conversations with people of differing opinions and enthusiastic support for the pledge itself.
“What [the Coast News] is doing is great,” Blakespear said. “It’s forcing a reflection from each campaign and hopefully the supporters of those people asking, what am I contributing to this? And is it positive? Is it helpful? Is it allowing for a discussion that involves divergent thought? Or is it closing the door on people, demeaning them and diminishing their value?”
Previously, Blakespear had included “a Pledge from Catherine about Civility” on her campaign website.
Thunder also agreed, saying the pledge is needed to help re-focus the elections on the issues versus name-calling and ad hominem attacks.
“I hope that not just myself and my opponent adopt this but other candidates across North County will take a hard look at it and consider following these guidelines.”
All North County candidates will be afforded the opportunity to sign and display the Coast News’ Clean Campaign Pledge on their campaign websites and social media platforms.
The full North County Beat episode with Blakespear and Thunder’s interviews is available on all podcast platforms including Apple podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher.
Presented by The Coast News Group, the North County Beat podcast features in-depth analysis and incisive commentary on a wide range of topics including politics, housing, environmental and social that impact North County San Diego. Host Kelli Kyle digs into the issues impacting Coast News readers, interviewing influential local leaders while searching for the pulse of North County.