Julie Thunder is a polarizing figure in the community. Her former political ally and a past candidate for state and local office had this to say about her:
"Julie Thunder is NOT on your side. Encinitas deserves a mayor with integrity, moral clarity and leadership skills. Julie Thunder lacks these qualities."
These words come from Phil Graham, a pillar of the community who ran for State Assembly in 2018 and Encinitas City Council in 2016. He was initially listed as an endorser on Julie Thunder's campaign website. No longer. Why? Because of Julie's tacit support of an illegal and dirty robo-calling campaign smearing him in the 2018 election, masterminded by her political mentor and partner Mark Muir. Julie didn't support Phil Graham when principle was at stake... she turned on him for the sake of political expediency.
Even more concerning is that Julie Thunder is trying to hide her true colors from Encinitas.
She touts her "independence" as a major asset on her campaign website and Facebook page:
But in truth, she has a well established partisan affiliation that she's working really hard to conceal, which gives the impression that she has a hidden agenda as well.
Julie Thunder changed her voter registration from "Republican" to “No Party Preference” just over a month before launching her mayoral campaign. Obviously this is an attempt to deceive and deflect scrutiny.
She has a long history of endorsing and working tirelessly to elect Republican candidates to political offices at all levels.
She was endorsed by Vote Conservative San Diego and by the Trump-supporting, right-wing Executive Director of the San Diego Gun Owners PAC, Michael Schwartz, who said that the election in Encinitas was "one of the most important races in the county". He also called our current council "ridiculous":
Her campaign treasurer is Briana Baleskie, co-founder of a Trump-supporting "Build the Wall" PAC and also treasurer for Republican Supervisor Kristin Gaspar (who voted proudly for Trump in 2016).
Julie Thunder associates with far-right activists like Crista Curtis (who led aggressive protests in favor of re-opening too early and harassed the mayor by leading a mob to her house) and Kim Spada Morris (who fought against the Safe Parking Lot for 25 cars for unsheltered residents). Below is a Facebook post thanking Julie for attending a Republican event, with a picture showing her hanging out with her Republican friends:
Thunder is also co-publisher of a so-called "community news" website which is actually a partisan political platform. She's partnered up with scandal-ridden Republican Mark Muir to publish "The Encinitas Current". Mark Muir and his family are embroiled in FCC and FPPC investigations into an illegal and deceptive robo-calling campaign during the 2018 State Assembly election.
On the merits, Julie Thunder's campaign is one of grievance. She's against a great many things, including long overdue improvements to Leucadia, projects to help our most vulnerable residents, and the certified housing plan getting the city out of a legal quagmire.
She led a divisive fight to stop the Cardiff segment of the Coastal Rail Trail (a battle which she fortunately lost - the Cardiff Rail Trail is now an enormously popular community gem). It's not entirely clear what she is actually *for* other than to try to take Encinitas back to the 1980s.
True leadership isn't about pointing out what's wrong and saying "NO" to everything - it's about having the political courage to find the path forward, to make hard decisions, and to take a stand on principles. Julie Thunder has shown no sign of these traits.
Finally, it's worth noting that Julie Thunder has no experience in government. She's never even served on a commission. She has decided that any office short of mayor is apparently beneath her.
Don't vote for Julie Thunder. She's a divisive force in our community, earning a public rebuke from a former political ally based on issues of character and integrity. She's the candidate of "NO". And she's hiding her true colors, masquerading as an independent while it's crystal clear that she's been a hard-right Republican for years. Over 75% of Encinitas voters care about the partisan affiliation of their officials and candidates, even for technically non-partisan offices such as Mayor and Council member.
So... know your candidates for mayor:
By Michael Verdu, Encinitas resident
Going deeper than sound bites and slogans, I thought I'd share some of my personal reasons for why I support our mayor and why I work so hard to get her re-elected. It's important to note that my wife and I have no financial interests in Encinitas beyond our home; there's nothing we want or need from our elected leaders except for them to do a good job, serve our community, and act with integrity. Here is my case for our mayor.
Competence: I personally value competence in our leaders - and Catherine has proven to be very competent. She understands the issues that we face in Encinitas and the entire region. She does her homework. She is careful to weigh all sides of an issue. Mike Levin recently said that she is one of the most knowledgeable local leaders, grasping the details and nuances of regional and local policy. Along with our City Council, she's competently steering our city through a pandemic, a crushing recession, an unprecedented level of polarization in the community, a global environmental crisis, a housing affordability crisis, a growing wave of homelessness, and the denouement of a years-long crisis around the city's housing plan. Through it all we've kept our AAA bond rating, we have one of the safest cities in the county (#1 in 2019, #2 this year), we are moving forward with community improvements including parks and pedestrian rail crossings and trails, we are protecting our environment and safeguarding our beaches, and our community has maintained its character, vibrancy, and soul.
Commitment: She works tirelessly on behalf of our community. Serving as mayor or Council member was originally supposed to be a part-time role, something a citizen does in addition to a day job. Catherine performs her role as a full time job. She's all-in for our city, and I am grateful for that.
Compassion: She cares about ALL of the people in our community, including our homeless residents. And she's willing to fight for us... ALL of us. She fearlessly fought to help the most vulnerable members of our community with the Safe Parking Lot for 25 cars for unsheltered residents. This was an important first step and it not only showed our city's compassion but also our willingness to lead the region in addressing one of our nation's deepest problems.
Leadership: Catherine understands that leadership is more than obstructing or pushing back or pointing out the negatives. A leader must find a path forward, balancing the interests of the community, obeying the law, and trying to do the most good for the largest number of residents while protecting the interests and rights of the minority. She does all of that... again and again.
Courage: Catherine has taken stands that are based on principle, even at risk of being unpopular. She acts locally while thinking globally with the Climate Action Plan, the shore restoration projects, bans on single use plastics, and the support for active transportation. She and the Council have been steadfast in support of the long-overdue improvements in Leucadia, which also have the support of the majority of residents but are opposed by an active minority. She strongly supported the Safe Parking Lot in the face of opposition from an angry minority of residents. These are just a few examples of leadership and political courage in the face of adversity.
Integrity and Values: Catharine's integrity is above reproach. And everything she does in office is guided by principles which ultimately flow from a wellspring of values. She is a true public servant and is devoted to democracy. Her emotional connections to the ideals of democracy shine through when she writes about elections, voting, and our country's history. Given the trying times that we live in, I am sometimes tempted to become cynical about our democracy. Catherine is NEVER cynical about our democracy. She believes in it with every fiber of her being... and she strives to act every day according to democratic ideals. Her faith reminds me to have faith. I am grateful for that.
Pragmatism: She understands that we can never win with extremes. For example, we can't tell the state to pound sand with regards to our housing plan. The Governor and the State Legislature are committed to solving a statewide housing affordability crisis and are requiring cities to create plans for new housing, including affordable housing. Encinitas was out of compliance for years due to the lack of a natural constituency to advocate in favor of housing plans that were difficult compromises. The Council attempted to pass compromise plans twice in the face of fierce opposition from special interest groups. We paid the price in lawsuits, legal bills, and lost state grants (which could have paid for more pedestrian rail crossings, among other projects). This housing issue is perhaps the most thorny and difficult problem facing our mayor and Council. It's very complicated... with a local law (Prop A) conflicting with state law. The conflict is incredibly hard to resolve because of the dynamics involved in passing a city-wide housing plan (by a vote) that can be certified by the state.
When we look forward, we need a housing plan that balances all interests. Those who believe that we can push back on the state and stop all new housing projects are misleading the public with simplistic messaging. In reality, local law does not pre-empt state law. A housing plan that is compliant with state law will be an uneasy compromise, no matter how it shakes out. Why? Because we can't force owners of private property to develop nothing but affordable housing (that would constitute taking their property). Instead, we have to incent landowners to develop the right kind of housing, and that's a frustrating and indirect mechanism. We must live in the real world and find compromises that work for all of us. That means the elements of any housing plan will be unpopular with some residents, no matter what is proposed.
I trust Catherine as well as the current Council to get this right. To thread this needle, to navigate us out of the current litigation and eventually find the practical and balanced path forward. I don't trust Julie Thunder, Susan Turney, and Alex to get this right. They betray a lack of experience, pragmatism, and common sense by taking a very complex issue and reducing it down to misleading slogans for campaign signs. To me, what they say sounds like pandering to residents, a highly unrealistic "have your cake and eat it too" approach. I believe they will plunge Encinitas back into a legal war with the state.
I trust Catherine to do the right thing for Encinitas. She's competent, compassionate, pragmatic, and courageous. I share and respect her values. Maybe she won't get it perfectly right every time... but she'll get it right most of the time. And that's all we can really ask of our leaders.
Julie Thunder, Susan Turney, and Alex Riley are spreading misinformation
The outrageous claims that the city sued its residents are false and we can prove it
The city did NOT sue its residents. Not a single resident was named. Nobody was served.
In fact, the Mayor and Council are fighting to *PROTECT* your vote.
We're so sure about this that we'll give $1,000 to a charity of your choice if you're the first person that can prove you were named or served in connection with the city's Prop A housing litigation. And we'll eat humble pie with a public apology in a post here and on our Faceboook page.
Now to the proof: We've provided a link to a court records search that will show you if you've been a party to any lawsuit. Enter your name as defendant in a civil suit at all court locations since 2017. If the city has sued you (even if you were later removed from the case), the search results will show it.
Or just take a phone snapshot of a court document that specifically names you and email it to us (or post it on our Facebook group if that makes you more comfortable. Feel free to black out any personal information other than your name. We're not picky.
We're quite sure that no such court documents exist. But if they do... we'll fess up.
Click below to see the messages of support coming directly from your Encinitas neighbors:
TRUMP-LOVING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SAN DIEGO GUN OWNERS PAC ENTHUSIASTICALLY ENDORSES JULIE THUNDER
Michael Schwartz is Executive Director of the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC. He loves Trump. He recently posted a link to an article about Trump defending the violent actions of his supporters in Portland and Kenosha - with the comment: "Love Trump. I just love the guy." (local Republican activist Crista Curtis chimes in "Yep! Me too." in the comment thread below).
Just above the adoring post about Trump is a glowing endorsement of Julie Thunder. Here's what this right-wing gun advocate says about Julie: "FINALLY! A good candidate in Encinitas... In my personal opinion, this is one of the most important races in the county. Getting some sanity back into those ridiculous coastal city councils is HUGE."
Even more confirmation that Julie Thunder remains an enthusiastic Republican even though she cynically switched her voter registration to "No Party Preference" right before announcing her candidacy for mayor. She is a long-time Republican. She worked to elect Republican candidates to office... partners with a Republican to put out her political newspaper ("The Encinitas Current")... hangs out with right-wing activists like Crista Curtis... and raised most of her money from Republicans.
Here are the posts from Schwartz's Facebook feed:
Phil Graham was a candidate for the California State Assembly in 2018. He made a recent post about Julie Thunder's character and suitability for office in a Facebook group focused on Encinitas politics.
The post content is below:
Julie Thunder is NOT on your side.
Encinitas deserves a mayor with integrity, moral clarity and leadership skills.
Julie Thunder lacks these qualities.
Last election cycle, I ran for the 76th Assembly seat. In July of this year, Mark and Mo Muir were exposed at the culprits who disparaged my good name and disenfranchised North County Voters by paying for 50,000 salacious robocalls saying I sexually assaulted a woman. The robocalls were sent by spoofing a phone number out of Mexico, disguising who paid for them. Read the story here.
This was done AFTER I was 100% exonerated, and led to 50,000 North County voters being misled by these smears. The woman who made the accusations pled guilty and went to jail. Read the story here.
I lost the race. Mark and Mo Muir didn't care, they only cared about their own power. They are responsible for Tasha being our Assemblywoman.
When told about the Muir's disgusting acts, Julie Thunder emailed me "Oh man, I wished it was Tasha - Ugh." When I explained the Muir's serious damage to the election process, disenfranchising 50,000 North County Voters, and serious damage to my reputation, Julie texted me "Wow, I completely understand. I'll stay on the sidelines and focus on my race for now. Hugs to you." Read the story here.
But Julie didn't stay on the sidelines. She didn't distance herself from the Muirs. She continues to partner with Mark Muir on her newsletter and her campaign. Read the story here.
Julie let me know that her friendship with the Muirs is more important than defending an innocent person from outrageous false charges, leadership, and integrity. The home that I've made for over 22 years deserves better.