ENCINITAS — In the third installment of virtual forum Encinitas Viewpoint, opposing candidates for city leadership positions on Aug. 13 discussed low-income housing, transportation and governance issues facing residents.
Mayoral candidate Julie Thunder, District 1 candidate Alex Riley, and Susan Turney, candidate for District 2, participated in the online panel, “Good and Bad Governance,” hosted by moderator Cindy Cremona.
Pam Slater-Price, former Encinitas councilwoman and mayor, also participated in the discussion, answering candidates’ questions and sharing her personal experiences working in local government.
Slater-Price defined “bad government” as a situation in which “the public is something to be tolerated, listened to but not heard, and then ignored or dismissed.”
The forum discussed the changes each candidate would personally support, spanning a wide range of topics including the group’s intent to re-establish Community Advisory Boards, large scale construction of city-wide underground railroad tracks, marijuana sale, and how to communicate with residents.
All three candidates enthusiastically supported the re-creation of Community Advisory Boards, local groups of residents who share their opinions with city officials. These “CAB’s” might operate alongside councilmembers or offer another level of communication between elected officials and residents.
However, Turney noted a lack of general citizen participation.
“From what I’m hearing, what I believe for myself is that I’m not being represented and so that’s an opportunity,” Turney said.
Riley agreed, saying, “I think topics become contentious because people don’t have information and feel like [issues] all of a sudden come out of nowhere.”
Furthermore, all candidates supported reorganizing the manner in which government functions, discussing a concept which prioritizes the opinions of residents over those of city officials and the very council for which the candidates are running.
Thunder and Riley also illustrated their desire to construct underground railroad tracks through the length of Encinitas, in accordance with neighboring North County cities such as Carlsbad, though they did not discuss the financial cost of such a project.
“It would be amazing,” Thunder said. “Whole rail corridors or part of it could be parks and gardens. Why aren’t we doing that with [Carlsbad]? What a bonus that would be.”
“It would be a superior plan to Streetscape, frankly and would show true vision and strategic thinking,” Riley said.
Low-income housing, a much-debated topic in Encinitas, again took center stage as Turney spoke about the need for more low-income housing and better regulations.
“We can require a much higher percentage of affordable housing,” Turney said. “Some cities up and down the coast require 50% [low-income housing] but in Encinitas when developers say ‘it won’t pencil out,’ our council says, OK …” [we] can require more of developers to prove that point.”
Additionally, all three candidates agreed the upcoming citizen-initiated ballot measure on the sale and distribution of marijuana should be left to the public.
Riley and Turney declined to offer strong opinions, while Thunder walked the line.
“I’m not going to advocate for it or against it because quite frankly, that’s kryptonite and I’m the underdog here,” Thunder said. “I’m personally going to vote ‘no’ and I’ll tell you why. I’m not anti-cannabis, medical marijuana, whatever you want to call it… I’m anti-children having more exposure to it.”
In total, the forum lasted one hour, included a short Q&A in the remaining minutes, and can be viewed in full here. Encinitas Viewpoint hosts forums on Thursday evenings every week.