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.