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Julie Thunder
A campaign sign for Encinitas mayoral candidate Julie Thunder near The Coast News building in Encinitas. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg
Cities Clean Campaigns Community Election 2020 Encinitas News

Encinitas mayoral candidate’s false claims violate campaign pledge

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Coast News has edited this piece to clarify a sentence regarding the timeline of events and content of the North County Beat podcast. Mayor Catherine Blakespear responded on September 17, as shown at 14:40 minutes in the podcast episode, specifically denouncing the behavior of the individual who wrote the harassing email to candidate Julie Thunder. 

Julie Thunder has not responded to several requests for comment. Some individuals’ names were left anonymous in this article for privacy concerns. However, their names are readily available on source documents contained within this article and on social media. 

ENCINITAS — Just one month after signing a pledge to run a clean campaign free of ad hominem attacks and misinformation, an aspiring North County politician published false statements and misleading remarks online about her opponent and a local media outlet.

Encinitas mayoral candidate Julie Thunder took to social media on October 8, sharing a screenshot of a harassing email she received in which a resident called her a “human pig.” In her Facebook post, Thunder went on to falsely accuse The Coast News employees and incumbent Mayor Catherine Blakespear of not denouncing the content or responding to the email’s author.

“Not one of the 18 people copied on that message spoke out against his vile words. Not one. Including the mayor. This is where we are Encinitas — and these are the disgusting politics that have been ruling over our City,” Thunder wrote.

However, Thunder’s claims ignore previous conversations about the email between Thunder, Blakespear and reporters during a podcast segment recorded last month discussing The Coast News’ Clean Campaign Pledge initiative.

The Coast News published a North County Beat podcast episode on September 18 entitled, “2020 Election Toxicity vs. The Clean Campaign!,” during which Thunder and Blakespear discuss the rising toxicity and harassment they have experienced throughout the 2020 election.

A screenshot of a social media post on Encinitas mayoral candidate Julie Thunder’s Facebook page.

During the interview, Thunder specifically mentioned a disparaging email she received from a local resident and outspoken Blakespear advocate (not affiliated with Blakespear’s official campaign). In the email, which was also sent to several employees at The Coast News, the individual called Thunder a “toxic, bigoted, racist xenophobic NIMBY mob leader, and a human-pig.”

“This individual called me a human-pig, which is not a threat but I have to say, it feels a little threatening,” Thunder said. “It doesn’t feel so well for anybody to call you that.”

Later in the episode, both candidates denounced all forms of harassment by their supporters in accordance with the campaign pledge, Blakespear specifically condemning the remarks within the aforementioned email.

“I don’t support anybody using derogatory terms that are insulting and offensive and disrespectful to the core person,” Blakespear said. “It’s important that you recognize where people are coming from and when there are disparaging terms like that used, it’s basically just meant to demean and belittle them, so I don’t support that.”

In an audio portion cut from the episode due to time constraints, Blakespear responded further, sharing an instance in which the individual has harassed her as well.

“There’s just no question about it, it is abusive,” Blakespear said, “I receive emails from [him] all the time, some of them being positive about the work that’s been done but most of them negative about the city.”

During a contentious election cycle, both Blakespear and Thunder have also reported stolen and defaced signs, in addition to experiencing online and in-person harassment.

According to Blakespear, one particularly vocal Thunder supporter and administrator of a local political Facebook group, physically stalked her husband at his place of work, threatening to “feed him a rat sandwich” and posting similarly ominous remarks online.

Due to this individual’s ongoing behavior, local law enforcement has conducted an official threat assessment, according to a spokesperson at the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Dr. Casey Dominguez, professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego, reviewed key aspects of the Encinitas mayoral race and the responsibilities of each candidate to control their supporters.

“Generally speaking, someone who’s running for office should respond to the public, but again there’s a lot of gray area there,” Dominguez said. “Candidates can’t be held accountable for every person on the internet.”

In previous months, Blakespear and Thunder have sent increasingly critical emails, highlighting the perceived deficiencies of their opponent, yet their email campaigns have largely stayed within the bounds of the Clean Campaign Pledge.

According to Dominguez, the public benefits when candidates run on a platform of fairness and transparency.

“An ethical candidate should not want to win because the public believes mistruths or is motivated by hate to support them over their opponent,” Dominguez said. “An ethical candidate wants to win on the basis of their ideas, their record, and their character.”

The Coast News Clean Campaign Forum will be held virtually on October 13, 7-9 p.m. and will feature all six candidates for mayor and Encinitas City Council. The forum will include one hour of discussion and one hour of public Q&A. Registration is free of cost and available here.

6 comments

Scott Platenberg October 13, 2020 at 8:34 am

Your updated note about the podcast still doesn’t prove that Miss Thunder ever heard the podcast. She claims she didn’t. I believe the victim.

The Coast News must presume she knew too, why else would they declare she broke the pledge rather than perform a fact check and report the evidence, as one would expect from a reputable news organization.

If Miss Thunder’s claim is true, then she has now been victimized twice, once in the email and again by the Coast News.

DeLuz October 12, 2020 at 12:50 pm

I am a 40 year resident of Encinitas.

Let’s look at some hard basic facts:

Julie Thunder’s family business Thunder Jones Commercial Structural Concrete is in the business of doing projects involving massive amounts of concrete. Here is the website with some great pictures: http://www.thunderjones.com/
Julie wants massive amounts of concrete for sea walls to cover the bluffs along our coast. But she was adamantly opposed to the Cardiff rail trail which has been a great benefit to our community probably because she didn’t want it near her Cardiff home.

Julie Thunder is a lifelong hard core republican who suddenly changed to no political affiliation shortly before announcing her campaign for mayor. How convenient. Unless she state otherwise, we have to assume she is voting for and supporting Donald Trump and Kristen Gaspar who is a vocal Trump loyalist.

Julie Thunder is endorsed by Michael Schwartz, Executive Director of the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC.
Julie wants allow gun shops to open in Encinitas.

Well I think you get the picture from looking at the above facts and can decide for yourself who you want for Mayor of Encinitas.

steve333 October 11, 2020 at 8:11 pm

This article is a disgrace.
Blakespear has someone in her campaign tearing down Thunder signs.
Blakespear’s campaign operatives sent out a card saying Cops support Blakespear. Well, first of all the Sheriff’s Department polices Encinitas and backs Thunder and the Police don’t call themselves cops.
Blakespear’s campaign has sent out cards stating that Thunder is a Trumpite. Not true, yet some people are naive enough to believe it. One of my mother’s friends got one and I told her it was a lie and told her to tell her friends and spread the message that Blakespear is a corrupt.lying fraud. Now THAT’S the truth.
Blakespear’s campaign put out large signs all along Encinitas Blvd on public property saying that she is supported by Firefighters and that’s a lie!
Blakespear takes outside money and developer money and is approving projects with only 10% affordability which will add over 5,000 units to Encinitas, which means over 20,000 new residents here-can you imagine the traffic?
Blakespear is also filling up motels and hotels with transients from outside Encinitas and crime has skyrocketed-over 15 garage break-ins in High Country Villas alone!
I have never seen a town go downhill as fast as it has under the current Mayor and City Council.
I just hope everyone can see through the lies and distortions in Blakespear’s campaign and that Thunder, Riley, and Turney win and throw Blakespear, Kranz and Hinze out of Office.
This is the most important election Encinitas has ever had. Don’t let Encinitas turn into a high density mess. Vote them out!

Save the Park October 11, 2020 at 9:31 am

Ms. Thunder and her supporters are more than willing to dish out lies but are as thin-skinned as Trump if anyone says anything negative about them.

On April 28, Julie Thunder for Mayor of Encinitas posted the following on the Encinitas Votes Facebook group:

“Cardiff Elementary Gains Approval
MUST PAY RANSOM OF $500,000

So, the school will be built EXACTLY as planned (minus some buildings they can no longer afford) – WITHOUT ANY CONCESSIONS to the group that sued them. But they had to pay the group $500,000. Extortion at its finest.”…”

If Ms. Thunder had an ounce of intellectual curiosity, or minimally had bothered to read the Settlement Agreement she was decrying, she would have known that the $500,000 payment the District agreed to pay Save the Park – Build the School was for “legal fees and costs incurred by STP in this litigation.” The payment of legal fees by a losing party is established by law, specifically, the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1021.5 and Public Resources Code Section 21177.8. The reason for such laws is to encourage citizens to hold public officials and agencies accountable for violation of the law. And, yes, the District did lose the litigation, with Judge Maas ruling that the District was in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The payment from the District went to cover a portion of the legal fees incurred by Save the Park. The remainder of STP’s legal fees were paid out of contributions by scores of supporters.

The statement that the “school can be build EXACTLY as planned” is intended to imply that the costs of litigation led to the elimination of the buildings – another lie. Ms. Thunder has been advised on multiple occasions that the District’s decision to eliminate those buildings came five months before the lawsuit was filed, the result of the project being overbudget before construction had begun. The District’s own November 2018 press release confirms it:
(https://www.encinitasadvocate.com/news/sd-cm-enc-1116-cardiff-school-20181113-story.html.)
Ms. Thunder apparently couldn’t even be bothered to read the linked story.

As anyone following the school litigation will know, last month the National Park Service rescinded its approval of the project because it did not comply with the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. The construction in Berkich Park will not proceed “exactly as planned,” a point that Save the Park has tried to make the District understand for more than two and a half years. On top of that, the Federal Court is now considering making the injunction against further construction in the park permanent.

Instead of being honest, instead of inquiring into the actual facts, Ms. Thunder chooses to throw manufactured chum in the water to score political points. She failed to consider the actual facts, the law, or the consequences of playing on raw emotions. Does this behavior sound familiar? If Encinitas voters want their own version of Trump, Julie Thunder is on their side.

Scott Platenberg October 10, 2020 at 11:12 pm

The Coast News could have chosen to say the challengers claims are untrue because of the podcast conversation. Instead they declare that the challenger broke the pledge herself.

A reasonable person could argue that the challenger expected a reply email that condemned the hateful words. I’d like to think that most of us would have replied-all condemning the hateful content. I hope all those copied on any future email like this will do so.

Futher, if you consider this email as a test of character, then all recipients failed the test. Including the author of this article. Candidate Thunder was publicly attacked with hate speech and not one of these leaders had the courage to speak up.

stevem October 10, 2020 at 4:14 pm

Clearly this Kron guy is an operative of Blakespear. Terrible reporting Caitlin, you allow Blakespears comments in an email call her opponents anti-homeless, anti-immigrant and anti-BLM all but outright calling her opponents racist and don’t investigate. Shame on you. Read for yourself

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VybLzYPwBrA–doepF4tdjsSVVYwmYIv/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uRf4DFJxw2XEnUX2tupPNpk2uwYth8vJ/view?usp=sharing

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