The 3rd District City Council campaign was a clean one until this week when sadly desperate second-place primary finisher Toni Duran sent out a “Trump-like” fake news hit piece on frontrunner Stephen Whitburn. And boy, has this nasty mailer backfired. This City Council campaign is historic as for the first time, one candidate is a Lesbian and the other is a Gay man. LGBTQ+ leaders called upon both candidates to run a clean campaign, but Duran broke that promise and sent out a mailer that actually accused Whitburn of trying to “steal Pride”!
As a founder of San Diego Pride (1974) and past board member, I can tell you that this mailer is nothing but a lie and an attempt to smear Stephen. In 2016, Stephen Whitburn’s last year as executive director of Pride resulted in the most successful financial year for Pride. Stephen now works for the American Cancer Society and also has worked for the Red Cross.
He has been endorsed by the Democratic Party and has served on the advisory boards to law enforcement and mayors. Former vice president of the ACLU, president of Democrats for Equality, member of the North Park Planning Committee, etc., Whitburn has been endorsed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, LGBTQ San Diego County Weekly and GLBT Vote 2020.
Every poll has shown Toni Duran losing badly, so in desperation she has sent out this hit piece full of lies.
What is sad is that before she became a candidate, Duran was a respected and well-liked LGBTQ+ activist, but now after trying to smear Whitburn, she has ruined what was once a good reputation.
And it gets worse: Now, Duran has sent out a fundraising letter with the same lies about Whitburn, begging people to “stop” him because he is “wrong” for our City Council.
My phone has been ringing off the hook by community leaders who can’t understand why Toni Duran has broken her promise not to run a dirty campaign. My good sources tell me Fernando Lopez of San Diego LGBT Pride and others were behind this mailer and in fact, they are listed as a source in Duran’s fundraising letter full of the false accusations. Indeed, Lopez has become the most controversial and disliked executive director in the history of San Diego Pride. Many feel it’s time for a Pride leader that brings our community together instead of dividing us.
Stephen Whitburn has vowed to be a City Councilman for all the residents of District 3, not just the LGBTQ+ community and we look forward to his election on Nov. 3.
As for his opponent: I know Toni Atkins, and you, Toni Duran, are no Toni Atkins — shame on you!