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Commentary: Thunder’s statement on The Coast News Clean Campaign Pledge

By Julie Thunder

I appreciate the intentions of The Coast News in putting forward a Clean Campaign Pledge to keep candidates focused on the issues and curtail the mudslinging. I agree that voters are best served by civil discourse. After signing the pledge, however, I have questioned how evenly the candidates and the paper, through its reporting, have responded to violations both perceived and imagined.

The pledge assigns candidates to “publicly denounce…and request that (an) individual stop” derogatory speech.

As a signatory to the pledge, I have tried my best to reject statements I know to be false. My practice is to repudiate false statements in the same forum in which the original, objectionable comments appeared. That hasn’t always worked both ways.

In a recent email sent by one of my opponent’s volunteers, he called me out by name and stated that I am a “toxic, bigoted, racist, xenophobic, NIMBY mob leader, and a human pig.” Ouch!

I was copied on the email, which he also sent to my opponent, as well as city council members, city staff, The Coast News and other community leaders – 17 recipients in total. My opponent did not issue a response to that email for all of the original recipients to see. Nor, for that matter, did anyone else.

My opponent reportedly denounced her volunteer’s hate speech later on a podcast. I did not hear it at the time. In all likelihood, neither did the 17 other people who were exposed to the original, vitriolic email. This, in my opinion, fell short of an appropriate repudiation and I said so.

In exhaustive reporting about the hateful email that targeted me, The Coast News alleged that I broke the pledge and stated so in an article.  My opponent later published an image of the headline in a negative mail piece.

As a first-time candidate, I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Months ago, friends who have held office tried to prepare me for the nastiness. They were certainly right.

But I never expected our local newspaper — with a campaign pledge of its own invention — to play such a big role. I appreciate the publisher’s personal apology to me.  Apology accepted.

Election season will be over soon. Meanwhile, to my supporters: If you have published statements about my opponent that you can’t back up with evidence, you have done so without my blessing. Please remove the statements immediately, especially if they include hate speech, for which I have zero tolerance.

To The Coast News: Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I look forward to returning to the questions of policy.

Julie Thunder is a candidate for the mayor of Encinitas.


PeacefulProgressive October 26, 2020 at 6:35 pm

Julie Thunder has yet to measure up to her Clean Campaign Pledge promise to publicly denounce vitriol and dishonesty by her supporters. Her blanket statement in this opinion piece simply doesn’t cut it.

I would like to see her denounce the Q-anon-style conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric seen on the “Save Encinitas” Facebook page, a page that has a request for donations to Thunder’s campaign pinned to the top.

I gave Mrs. Thunder the opportunity to condemn the hateful posts her supporter has shared on Save Encinitas by politely asking her about it on her recent social media post. She deleted my comment from her Facebook page.

She should also denounce and the onslaught of negativity from the Encinitas Watchdog group.

All of the pages I have mentioned above have regularly shared video harassing the homeless, as well as coordinating to attack Blakespear supporters on Facebook and NextDoor.

Julie Thunder was a member of Encinitas Watchdog when Jeff Morris made their cover photo an image of private citizen Lisa Nava with a crudely scrawled target-like red circle around her head – Julie Thunder said nothing. That cover photo stayed at the top of their group page for a month while Thunder actively commented on the page, never voicing dissent while a citizen of Encinitas was attacked simply for exercising her right to free speech.

She also stayed silent while Morris spent months posting screen caps of citizens in the audience of city council meetings, attempting to find out who the citizens were, in order to doxx them.

She stayed silent while they protested outside the mayor’s home, only publicly addressing it when asked about it, never of her own accord. So her public disavowal is buried deep in the comments of Encinitas Votes, not on her own Facebook page or website – where she could have sent a clear message to her supporters. (In the Coast News Clean Campaign forum, she claimed she did, but I scoured every post on her Facebook page and, big surprise, a post disavowing protestors outside the mayor’s private residence does not exist.)

The fact that Julie Thunder actively participated in this group and saw posts picking apart Catherine Blakespear’s private life and childhood, creating “birther” theories that she is not actually from this area, is beyond the pale. Thunder’s silence speaks volumes.

There is definitely a false equivalency involved here. Julie Thunder has looked the other way every time Jeff Morris, whose wife volunteers and distributes signs for Thunder’s campaign, posts his hate-filled rants directed at Catherine.

Thunder supporters have repeatedly posted veiled threats and lies, and they are rarely called out on it.

The Kron email was crude, inappropriate, and distasteful and I commend The Coast News and Mayor Blakespear for discussing it in the podcast on toxicity in campaigns. It’s a shame Julie Thunder chose to contribute to the toxicity by later claiming that no one addressed the email that was clearly the subject of in-depth reporting in such an insightful podcast, which I encourage Thunder supporters to listen to.

By her membership in NC3/Encinitas Watchdog and her refusal to even publicly acknowledge the abusive posts coming from members of that group, Julie Thunder has fanned the flames of hate and fear for political expediency.

She should ask herself, if she wins this election, what will she do if members of this group turn on her?

[email protected] October 25, 2020 at 6:49 am

Thank you for publishing Julie’s point of view. However, publishing this opinion piece doesn’t go far enough. It may create an appearance of Coast News fairness without actually undoing the damage you have inflicted on the Thunder campaign. Since you deemed her so-called “violation” news, you should publish – as a news article – a mea culpa, and should call upon Mayor Blakespear to include a link to it and her own mea culpa in her own newsletter – before election day.

I’m utterly shocked at this whole “Clean Campaign Pledge” initiative. A cynical person might conclude the Coast News conspired with the Mayor from the outset to lay a trap for Julie Thunder with the very aim of catching her in a “violation”, so you could print a story that Blakespear could use in her campaign, as she has. Please pplease please prove me wrong!

Michael Verdu October 24, 2020 at 10:10 am

Julie Thunder:

Catherine’s denouncement of the Kron email was included in a long segment of the Coast News podcast about election toxicity. The podcast segment was specifically about the email and included quotes from both you and Catherine. In fact, The Coast News reporter reached back out to both of you to get quotes about the email, for this piece. There’s no excuse for being unaware of the contents of the final podcast which aired on September 18.

Based on what you’ve said in your commentary above, you didn’t bother to listen to the podcast, even though it was specifically about you, your campaign, and the email that you were so upset about. Apparently nobody else on your campaign team listened to it either (because if they did, they would have told you about it).

This was an important piece of journalism about you and your campaign, from a large regional newspaper, and the reporter creating the piece reached out to you for a quote. And you didn’t even go back and listen to it when it aired?

You have an obligation to be aware of what is being reported about you and your opponent. Catherine was on the record in a report from a major newspaper, specifically about the campaign, featuring quotes from you. You should have known about it. And yet you attacked her three weeks later for staying silent. At the very least, you should have done some research before making the false claim.

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