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Commentary: Concerns with Encinitas City Council District 3 appointment

By Julie Thunder

Filling the Encinitas City Council District 3 vacancy created by the resignation of Jody Hubbard raises numerous questions about our Mayor and Councilmembers who seem to have favored enlisting a new team player who aligns with their own politics, ahead of other important considerations.

First and foremost, why didn’t the council defer to the voters and call for a special election?

The stated reason was cost, but the public was never given a viable estimate of what that cost would be for a district-only election.  City staff estimated a city-wide special election would cost $408,000. 

As District 3 is one-fourth the size of the City, a reasonable assumption with added buffer would be $150,000.  That’s far less than the $400,000 the City budgeted for art gallery lighting this year.

With this new appointment, our politically-aligned Council now has a 3-vote majority made up of appointees, all voted into office by this mayor. 

Will they feel obligated to follow the mayor’s lead on future decisions?  Councilmembers Joe Mosca (appointed in 2017, then elected in 2018) and Kellie Hinze (appointed in 2019, then elected in 2020) rarely vote against the mayor, and with the advantage of incumbency, they each won reelection. 

Last week’s appointment also gives a leg up to their new appointee, Joy Lyndes, if she decides to defend her seat in 2022.

One issue councilmembers will soon vote on is the future of the Pacific View site, the school property purchased by the city in 2014 for a controversial $10 million.  The Mayor has indicated she is ready to move forward with plans for the property. 

But, Lyndes’ husband sits on the board of the site’s controlling agency creating a possible conflict of interest, which could cause her recusal.  This would disenfranchise residents of District 3 leaving them without a voice in future Pacific View decisions. 

The council initially said they wanted someone “like Jody” to replace her, but then declined Ms. Hubbard’s personal choice of Planning Commissioner Brett Farrow.  Then they said they want a candidate who “would be a good team member” and “help us do the things we want to do.” 

Never did they mention ‘representation’ or the ‘people’ of District 3.

Also missing was any discussion on how the applicants would handle issues unique to District 3: Birmingham Drive Streetscape, homelessness in Glen Park, increasing traffic and speeds on S. El Camino Real, and safety issues with the S. Coast Highway bike curbs, to name a few.

Determined to serve the city I love, I also applied for the vacant seat.  As a recent candidate who opposed the mayor in the November election my expectations weren’t high.  But, since I did earn over 45% of the vote, I was hopeful the council would extend an olive branch to my supporters– more than 4,500 people in District 3 who don’t feel represented by current leadership.  Despite these numbers, and the hundreds of letters of support the City received for me last week, my application did not gain traction.  C’est la vie.

To Councilmember Joy Lyndes, you are not to blame for a questionable process. I wish you luck and trust you will be an independent and responsive representative to residents of District 3.

And to Jody Hubbard, thank you for your service to our community and I wish you good health.

Julie Thunder has lived in Cardiff for 36 years.


steve March 12, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Agree 100% with this article.
Blakespear apparently thinks she was appointed Queen, not elected to represent the needs and wants of the people of Encinitas.
We had a chance to get rid of her once and for all, it’s disappointing that her high density, pro developer at any cost mindset wasn’t fully understood by many voters.
I have lived in many Cities in my long life and Blakespear earns the honor of being the worst mayor I have ever seen.

Robert N. March 6, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Lisa Shaffer says that because Catherine Blakespear received more votes in D3 than Julie Thunder during the Mayor election then residents of D3 opinion on who they want for an appointed council member doesn’t matter.

Yet, City Council received 222 residential letters asking them to appoint Julie Thunder, whereas Joy Lyndes received 7 (2 of those were non-resident). Julie Thunder also received significantly more votes than Jody Hubbard in D3, yet that doesn’t matter either. 45% of our Encinitas residents, nearly half the city voted for Julie Thunder for Mayor, and on a shoe string budget, compared to Catherine Blakespear huge war chest of developer friendly PAC support, yet that doesn’t matter either.

The residents of District 3 overwhelming demonstrated to council that they wanted Julie Thunder to be appointed. Our council didn’t care. So much for democracy!

Robert N. March 6, 2021 at 11:59 am

Our city council runs on a community friendly campaign platform of ethics and moral standards such as “transparency” “inclusion” and “change”, yet I’m not seeing any of that.

Transparency, inclusion and change only seem to occur when there’s good press coverage for council member ratings.

Yet deep in the backrooms of City Hall where infamous “closed session council meetings” occur and Brown Act Violations and conflicts of interest flow regularly, we have a council that ignores all basic moral, ethical and democratic standards.

Lisa Shaffer March 6, 2021 at 7:08 am

Ms. Thunder has the right to apply for this position. Her argument that she won 45% of the vote in her district, however, puzzles me. She’s saying she LOST to the current mayor, even in her own district, and then she complains that the mayor, who legitimately represents the majority of voters, should be disregarded. There will be another election next year. She can run again. We have a track record in Encinitas of voting out incumbents who are not popular – Jerome Stocks lost; Mark Muir lost. So I suggest we move on, appreciate the depth of expertise and commitment we have in our city, and let the Council get its work done. Ms. Thunder can try again, if she chooses, either for mayor or a council seat.

Sheila Cameron March 5, 2021 at 1:53 pm

Julie Thunder, Thank you for your fair and astute comments regarding the Council Appointment for District 3. It is unfortunate that the Mayor and Council did not allow the voters in District 3 to choose their own Representative. Ms. Thunder’s financial estimate of cost is accurate and would be a good investment of our taxpayers money. The voices of voters are always worth the investment. “Questionable Process” is a diplomatic way of saying it.

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