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Commentary: Let’s keep it constructive!    

By Darius Degher

If you look up the term “dedicated public servant” in the dictionary, you will see pictures of Catherine Blakespear, Tony Kranz and Kellie Hinze. Or at least you should.

The Encinitas mayor and city council members are as rock-solid as they come, and they deserve to be re-elected. They’re the heart of the best council the city has ever had (and I’ve seen a number of them).

They’re responsible for our climate plan, community choice energy, new bike and pedestrian infrastructure, bans on plastic straws and gas leaf-blowers, and the city’s first-ever, state-approved housing plan, among other successes.

In the social media miasma, however, you’ll find lots of disinformation, likely inspired by our shambolic national politics. Centered on opposition to the Cardiff Rail Trail (now beloved, btw), our housing element quagmire, and a safe place for a few homeless people, political challengers emerged, and an orchestrated smear campaign was mounted against Blakespear. Soon, a strange, anti-incumbent mood seemed afoot.

But the challengers haven’t voiced any positive ideas. They’re running negative campaigns: vocal about what they dislike without suggesting any constructive alternatives. So, their campaigns resemble Trump’s in 2016: rhetoric about how terrible everything is at a time when things are actually quite good. It’s a style based on imagined fears of what could go wrong, not on what’s actually happening.

The challengers also have no experience in city government. As someone who’s served on a city commission, I can tell you there’s a lot to learn there about what’s actually involved in governance. Maybe they should do that and then try running again in a few years.

The challengers also seem bent on obfuscating their political orientations, hiding behind vague slogans and the fable of “non-partisan” politics. Online, if you ask Julie Thunder a policy question, she’ll either ignore it or her social media mob will attack your intentions.

We might not have known of her Republican orientation at all if it weren’t for her association with Kristin Gaspar and Crista Curtis (organizer of the dangerous “open the city” protest). Interestingly, Thunder changed her status from Republican to No Party Preference just before declaring her candidacy.

True, our housing situation, with no legal housing element at all for many years, has been a mess. But it’s an exceedingly complex issue, with the State of California pressuring Encinitas from one side and developers suing the city from the other. It’s easy to oversimplify the situation, and I feel the council has done a good job of threading a difficult needle.

The truth is it’s privileged communities like ours, fighting the state’s demands for more housing, which are one cause of California’s intractable homelessness problem. Nobody wants more housing, but NIMBY-ism has reached its limits. (In fact, I propose POPP, Protect Our Privileged Property, as a more accurate acronym.)

The mayor and council understood that inaction was no longer viable and was costing the city millions in litigation. Now, for the first time in decades, Encinitas is in compliance with state law. The challengers suggest they could do better, but they haven’t proposed any real way forward, relying instead on mendacious yard signs about the city suing them.

Blakespear, Kranz, and Hinze are lifelong Encinitans. They’re honest, smart, and progressive. Encinitas has never had a more trustworthy, cohesive, and wise city council. It needs to remain intact.

And while you’re voting, please also vote for Tasha Boerner-Horvath and Terra Lawson-Remer!

Darius Degher


concerned October 4, 2020 at 11:10 pm

What would you say if you knew that the Mayor, Hinze, and Kranz were given deep pocket developer money to get elected again. Mayor Blakespear, and council Hinze, and council Kranz are stated recipients of two PACs listed in the city records.

The Verdu PAC called North County Action Network, placed $30,000 in it to the benefit of the three incumbents. The maximum amount that can be contributed individually to a candidate is $250. Yet, someone with money or others with money can establish a PAC and give far more than the $250 max amount. A PAC isn’t considered part of the campaign contributions.

Another PAC, Conserve North County, established by local attorney Marco Gonzalez, has two contributors. Ladera Quality Meats located in San Diego with Michel Cohen Perez as contact and a contribution of $9,500 for the 3 incumbents. Quality meats? No. It is actually a company that will raze Sunshine Gardens on Encinitas Blvd. and build at least 140 apartments many at market rate.

The second contributor to the Gonzalez PAC is Encinitas Beach Land Venture I, LLC and its contributor Lawrence Jackel. Mr. Jackel is the developer of the expensive bluff top hotel on Highway 101 and La Costa that needed and wanted NO additional city review of a 12 year old permit.

Mr. Jackel also owns the property next to the hotel. This property was upzoned by the council to 30 housing units per acre. Mr. Jackel’s company contributed $9,000 to Gonzalez’s PAC for the 3 incumbents.

While the PACs are independent and separate, the money is still used to get their 3 incumbents elected. It smells and smells.

The Mayor has a problem with telling the truth. Her latest mailer touts her as a protector. She didn’t mention that a property that she and the council upzoned at Rancho Santa Fe and Encinitas Blvd is now proposed for a 7 story 283 apartments building.

Recall the 3 incumbents now. Encinitas needs a change of council and mayor. Vote for Thunder,
Turney, Riley.

Cabi October 4, 2020 at 4:02 pm

I always have the feeling Ms. Thunder is speaking exclusively about Cardiff when she uses or says the term “beach town”. I strongly dislike that slogan because it makes me feel excluded from her inside group – the group she harnesses for her angry mobs that show up at city council meetings to stage a theatrical announcement or those who are so outrageously entitled they believe there are no civilized boundaries in our society.
So Steve (commenter above), if Ms. Thunder doesn’t want to be associated with Trump or his devotees, that’s fine. God knows, if I were a candidate for anything, I wouldn’t want to carry that anchor around my neck either, so as a suggestion perhaps she could be a little more inclusive and a little less “NO” to everything when she communicates. Cardiff is not a members only club like Mar a Lago. The rest of the city also matters. I will vote for Mayor Blakespear not only because she is the most qualified candidate in this race, but because she cares about all of us in Encinitas.

Lea October 3, 2020 at 5:44 pm

I am confused by Lorri’s comment. She starts by questioning the constructiveness of this piece, yet in the next sentence says she would have shared it in EPU if she wasn’t banned.
If you don’t think it is constructive, why share it?

Seems as if you were just taking the opportunity to complain about no longer being in the group. Odd sense you left of your own accord.

Lorri October 3, 2020 at 1:19 pm

How was this commentary constructive? Seems like another “hit” piece on anyone even questioning this council. I would have actually posted this comment on Encinitas Progressive Unity, a Facebook group, run by Darius, but I have been blocked from that site. Ironically I am a lifelong Democrat, but I challenged a couple of things on his site, and can no longer comment.

steve October 3, 2020 at 1:15 pm

This starts by claiming there is a smear campaign against Blakespear and her 2 groupies, then turns around and smears Thunder for maybe being (gasp!) a Republican, then goes on to let us know that Thunder supporters are all Trumpsters.
It’s laughable but the joke is on us if Blakespear and her 2 groupies get re-elected. They do nothing but try and shut down the opposition to her ridiculous plans, and they are the ones that started with the name calling.
Anyone who has lived in Encinitas for any amount of time can see that this Town has fallen under Blakespear and the current City Council. They all need to be replaced and it can’t happen soon enough.
Keep Encinitas a Beach Town, not a Big Town. I’m voting for Thunder.

Susan Sherod October 3, 2020 at 9:41 am

I agree. Let’s keep Encinitas a wonderful place to live. Let’s be inclusive and continue to work towards a diverse and harmonious community with Blakespear, Hinze, Kranz, Mosca & Hubbard’s leadership.

Ronette Youmans October 2, 2020 at 7:50 pm

I appreciate Darius Degher for calling out the connection between the NIMBYism, the lack of affordable housing and homelessness.

Grateful citizen October 2, 2020 at 6:03 pm

I completely agree. Throwing mud, spewing Republican talking points, and offering only vague promises like “we’ll fight back against state mandates”do not substitute for experience and compassion, and commitment, which is what our incumbents have demonstrated. We are fortunate these folks have been willing to serve, for minimal pay and minimum appreciation. Vote for Blakespear, Hinze, Kranz.

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