Cardiff resident Julie Thunder, who's registered as an independent, announced her bid for Mayor of Encinitas at a recent city council meeting. Courtesy photo
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Cardiff resident making a run for mayor

ENCINITAS — Longtime Cardiff resident Julie Thunder said she is running for mayor of Encinitas because she’s fed up with the direction she sees the city going in.

She announced her bid during a contentious marathon City Council meeting last month where she was one of more than 100 people who addressed the council regarding the overnight homeless parking lot they were set to approve.

“To everyone here tonight please join me right here and right now in keeping Encinitas a beach town as I hereby announce my candidacy for mayor,” she said at the end of a three-minute impassioned speech at the meeting on Jan. 22, as the crowd erupted in applause.

During that speech Thunder said she sees the city moving away from its small beach-town feel due to a long list of projects the council has approved, including chopping down hundreds of old trees in Leucadia to make way for road diets, parking lots and roundabouts; bringing high-rise apartments to “our peaceful, backcountry jewel” in Olivenhain; building a concrete rail-trail in Cardiff “that becomes a beach boardwalk in the summertime” and approving a regional homeless parking lot and slapping it “right in the middle of one of our cherished agricultural properties.”

“For renouncing the historic Ecke growing grounds you should take that poinsettia off our emblem,” she told the council, referencing that the city’s Safe Parking Program lot is on a site that was previously part of the Paul Ecke Ranch.

In an interview on Feb. 10, Thunder, a mom of four adult daughters who’s lived in Cardiff with her husband for more than 35 years, said the current mayor and council have been fast-tracking projects and bringing in development that takes away from Encinitas’ small-town vibe and she wants to slow that down.

“If we keep going in the direction the mayor and City Council are going we’re going to end up with four- and five-story buildings all over town, and with each one of those buildings is going to come a bunch of cars and a bunch more traffic and it’s just going to add a little bit of tension to everybody’s day and that’s not why people live here,” she said.

Adding to the problem, Thunder said, is that she feels as though the council approaches projects backward. She said council and staff decide which projects they want to do, draw up the plans and then present them to the public without listening to resident input.

“I would reverse that,” Thunder said. “I would start with the residents who are most impacted and go forward from there because I certainly don’t think that I know what’s best for anybody, especially people who live in an area that I don’t live in.”

Thunder said that as mayor, the main thing she’d like to do is find a new path to the housing requirements that are being “shoved down our throats” by the state. She said it’s disheartening because the state of California’s population has flatlined but yet the state government is forcing high-density projects.

“Other cities are pushing back and they’re making headway, I’d like to work with them,” she said. “I’d like to form a coalition with other coastal cities that have the same housing problems we do. We’re basically built out, so I’d like to find a way to be more reasonable with what the state is trying to force us to do.”

Thunder said she’s also interested in long-term projects like undergrounding the railroad tracks through Leucadia. She said Carlsbad has been leading the charge on that issue and she’d like to work with them.

“Our city hasn’t been working with Carlsbad, they don’t seem to be interested, but I am and I’d like to explore that,” she said, adding she’s interested in the possibility of a trench, as Carlsbad and other California cities have proposed or utilized, which could allow for a park, and/or pedestrian and vehicle overpasses to be built on top of the undergrounded tracks so that “everybody on both sides of the highway and railroad tracks can get to the other side safely.”

Thunder, who said that during her campaign she’ll be stepping away from her duties at The Encinitas Current, the newsletter she runs with former City Councilman Mark Muir, said there’s so much divisiveness in the city, evidenced by the number of lawsuits happening throughout the city, and she’d like to work to change that.

She said as mayor she would be accessible to people and to their ideas and be willing to compromise.

“I could not be more sincere and honest when I say I have no agenda except to slow things down and to keep Encinitas more like it’s always been instead of something new and flashy,” she said. “I would have compassion for homeowners and renters, and if a project is about to change the way they do things, change their access to things, change the values of their home, that matters to me. And I think people would appreciate that, I think it would really change the tone of our city if we had someone like that running things.”

5 comments

Bhavani Kirnak February 17, 2020 at 11:33 am

Beautiful article. Absolutely the right priorities. I have watches Mayor and Council senselessly destroy what’s precious and healthy about Encinitas with inexplicable initiative after inexplicable initiative. I haven’t been involved up until now but this latest one, the homeless parking lot, which provides a parking space for 8 cars at the direct taxpayer expense of over a $$quarter million, and the indirect taxpayer cost of turning Encinitas into a magnet for homelessness, drawing an unknown number of new homeless to our streets, perhaps hundreds – and then to pour salt in the wound, the Mayor and her “partners” accusing the voters of “NIMBY behavior”, “anti-Semitism” and “lying” – this one really got my attention.

Julie Thunder will govern with “consent of the governed”!

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Marco Gonzalez February 20, 2020 at 7:10 am

Platitudes are easy, governance is hard. Does Julie really think she’s the first to consider grade separation of the railroad tracks in this city? Maybe a little homework into efforts that have already been (and are being) undertaken would be helpful. It’s easy to criticize government from the outside when you’ve had the luxury of only participating in your pet opposition efforts, but Julie’s not been involved in nearly enough issues to know what it really takes to run this city. Plus, she’s not being forthright with her own connection to the construction of projects many in the community have opposed (C3 bank building, Pacific Station – she owns the concrete company that built their foundations). In the end, she’s another blustery Republican NIMBY Monday morning quarterback destined for a serious wake up call as her campaign gets rolling. Hopefully she can keep from screaming at people who disagree with her.

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Justin Gafford February 20, 2020 at 1:36 pm

Just another rich lady with nothing to worry about. Your day is going to be more stressful? Listen here lady; you don’t know what the hell stress is. Stress is when you’re a 27 year old guy living in his van, who drives his mother’s husband to and from work every day because his truck broke down and he can’t afford to fix it because his rent has gone up 160%, and his wages remain stagnant. Stress is knowing that my terminally ill mother could wind up homeless because of heartless, selfish, psychotic politicians like yourself – that don’t want to help people because it means you will have to deal with a little more traffic. Like it or not lady, we’re in this together – anything else is murder.

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Louise February 20, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Meanwhile, the Encinitas safe parking lot that got Thunder and her supporters so riled up is being seen as an example by Carlsbad, who has a councilwoman that now wants to open one there: https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/news/north-county-report-carlsbad-councilwoman-wants-the-city-to-open-its-own-safe-parking-lot/ And the Encinitas lot is being used by people who “either work in Encinitas or say they have been sleeping in their vehicles on the city’s streets at some point in the last year,” the vast majority of whom have jobs and were in essence hiding in plain sight, according to the U-T https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/encinitas/story/2020-02-11/overnight-parking-lot-for-homeless-opens-for-business-in-encinitas. The lot has been so drama-free in its opening days that the security guard is having to count acorns dropping for entertainment. The only drama is coming from the histrionics of residents not willing to see that this is a sane and compassionate program. Go ahead and run, I say to Thunder. I think she will find there are a lot of quiet people that do not feel she represents their values.

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Michelle Marquand February 26, 2020 at 11:16 pm

I find all of the above comments interesting and as usual vitriolic dialogue coming from Liberal voices. I am a registered Democrat but I support Julie Thunder running for Mayor not because of her party affiliation, certainly not over the safe lot, although I do not support anyone sleeping in their cars. What I support is choice at the ballot box and open honest diversified debate. Encinitas is a small city that needs a leader who is invested in the city and not looking to use their position to gain notoriety or name recognition to further their political career at the expense of their constituency. There has been a pattern of blatant disregard for the concerns of the residents of Encinitas and placing special interests above the taxpayer.
I believe there is a disconnect between what the Council sees as their role and what the public sees as their role. This Mayor is more interested in serving on regional boards then holding her staff accountable for managing the city. She has also lost the trust of most Encinitas residents which once trust is broken it can never be regained. It’s simply time for a change.

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