E.V. residents talk about candidates, campaigns - East Valley Tribune: News

E.V. residents talk about candidates, campaigns

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Posted: Saturday, September 20, 2008 5:24 pm | Updated: 8:49 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Six weeks from Tuesday, voters across the country will go to the polls, spurred by their right to have a say in how they are governed.

INTERACTIVE: Click to hear what E.V. residents had to say

Six weeks from Tuesday, voters across the country will go to the polls, spurred by their right to have a say in how they are governed.

INTERACTIVE: Click to hear what E.V. residents had to say

Some East Valley voters have already made their decisions. Some are still pondering. Many are looking toward the economy, the war in Iraq or housing issues to guide their vote.

And some are like Astin Rushton, 25, and Jennifer Snowdin, 33, who sat outside the Chandler Public Library a week ago, taking a break from looking for jobs.

Both have completed training this year. Rushton is a massage therapist. Snowdin is a medical assistant. The couple came to the library to use the Internet. Both are unemployed.

"I would like the fact if we had a president we would work on our economy, our taxes, and helping people who are actually in need of something instead of building stuff we don't need," Snowdin said.

From Hilton Village in Scottsdale to Dunkin Donuts in Queen Creek, most voters don't mind expressing their opinion on the 2008 election. Many are quick to name the presidential candidate they like, but are not so quick to name a local race they're following.

Barack Obama. John McCain. Sarah Palin. Harry Mitchell. Joe Arpaio. Dan Saban. Tim Nelson. People felt strongly about the candidates they support and oppose.

Chief operating officers, firefighters, business owners, restaurant managers and stay-at-home moms alike say they plan to vote on Nov. 4.

"It's all really bad," said Jane Hackenbracht, 75, as she sat at the Chandler Senior Center. "To me this is an important election, one of the most important since, I believe, the Depression era,"

On a recent Wednesday morning in Scottsdale, a young college crowd talked more about what's happening on the national scene than in local politics.

Inside the student center, preparing for a public speaking class, 24-year-old Bethany Paluch, expressed her support for the Democrats' presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

"Barack Obama, I watched his election speech. ... I personally think he's a brilliant guy," Paluch said. "I'm kind of rooting for Barack Obama. I should know more about politics. I really should. My father is rooting for him. My mother. Pretty much my whole family."

Why Obama?

"No particular reason," Paluch said. "Just his intentions of what he wants to do for the country seem a lot better than the situation we are in right now."

Outside, sitting under some shade with fellow students, Taylor Arnold, 21, a business student, couldn't disagree more.

"I think that this election what's important to me is that someone who goes in office has experience dealing with the country and the problems," Arnold said. "The reason I support John McCain is he has so many years experience in Congress. He knows how to deal with the country's problems.

"I feel he can bring what the country needs. He has the experience necessary. He has the 'umph' to do it. He's all American. He's been to Vietnam and he loves his country and he loves America. He's going to do what's best for us."

A few minutes later, the outspoken young man hopped on his skateboard, off to his next class.

Up the road at Hilton Village, Scott Ziegler was working in his "outside office," a table and chair near Starbucks. The 44-year-old Ziegler is owner of New York Pizza Dept., a 12-year-old business with 10 locations and more than 300 employees. He was quick to talk about the economy.

"We're in a very difficult economic time here in Phoenix and politicians are talking about the economy in general and unfortunately there are certain places in this country where the economy is much worse off and better in other places," he said. "As a business owner we happen to be in one of those places where economically we are much worse off."

Ziegler is upbeat about the presidential election because of the choice Americans can make in November. "We're going to make history by either having an African-American president or a female vice president," he said. "Finally, America is coming into its own."

Terry Gould of Paradise Valley said he's looking for someone to uproot Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"I've voted for him year after year, but I do not support the way he has been allocating taxes to enforce the immigration laws," Gould said, citing a recent Tribune investigation into Arpaio's illegal immigration enforcement effort.

Media coverage of the election was the main topic for Melissa Blankenship, 28, who met friend Eva Unell, 22, at Tempe Marketplace recently. Blankenship, a hairstylist in Scottsdale, and Unell, a student at ASU, try to get together when they can.

"I feel it's very geared toward the celebrity aspect of Obama," Blakenship said. "Like everybody wearing his T-shirts. And like Oprah supporting him and now not wanting to interview Palin. I think the celebrity aspect has become too much of a big part of it."

"I hate how catty it's been," she said. "I think it's like two girl candidates about to scratch each other's eyes out."

At Tempe Beach Park, Cecilio Torres, 64, and Arlene Daniel, 52, watched kids play in the splash area. Both are retired civil service workers.

On the national level, Torres said the candidates are doing a lot of talking, but she doesn't think there's a lot of meaning behind it.

"They keep talking about the Iraqi war for one thing, but basically no one has really addressed it," Torres said. "They really haven't come up with any solutions."

Just over the hill, thousands of American flags blew in the wind, yellow ribbons on their poles. Cindy Hill, 42, director of a nonprofit group, was there with others, setting up for the 9/11 Memorial Healing Field. Each flag flew in memory of a victim from that day.

In her job, Hill says, she has seen the direct impact of the economic downturn.

"People, unfortunately, who really love to give and are willing to give, just don't have the money to support themselves and the families we're trying to help," she said. "It's unfortunate. There are more people who need our help."

At a Jason's Deli in Chandler, the economy and health care were at the forefront of political discussion among firefighters having lunch there a couple of weeks ago.

"I think the most important thing to me personally and to my family is the economy," Battalion Chief Dick McBlane said. "I think that we've got to turn our country around economically. We see it every day in the fire service.

"People are having tough time, a tough time not only paying their bills, making decisions on health care issues, whether or not they go to the hospital. That is something you see in the fire service all the time. 'Am I going to go to the hospital and get treated or am I going to treat it on our own?' Many, many people are without health insurance and I think that is a sad state of affairs for our country."

Tom Carlson, acting fire chief with the Chandler Fire Department, talked about what's being said by candidates and the media.

"Sitting back at home it's like, why doesn't someone say 'Stop. Enough.'" Carlson said. "Let common sense prevail and get on with the differences with the candidates instead of the personalities. I would love to be one of the anchors to be able to do that."

A lot of people don't like the mudslinging that is going on this election season.

"I don't like mudslinging and that has started to happen in the campaign," said Chuck Morene, 69, as he got a haircut at Papa Joe's in Chandler.

Mesa residents talked a lot about party politics when asked about the important issues this election. Most cited the need to get a specific candidate into the White House, with a hope that the new president will bring about change in America.

"The most important thing is Obama gets in," said Ginny Oman, 56. She was walking into a Mesa L.A. Fitness for her morning workout.

"I'm for Obama because of his policies on human rights and the direction he wants to take the country. McCain was scary enough, now he chose Palin."

Don Beeler, manager at Sun Valley Barbers in Mesa, took a break outside the shop he's worked in for six years to talk politics.

"I'm hoping (Palin's) as smart as I think she is," Beeler said. "I like her most probably because she's pretty down to Earth, she knows the difference between right and wrong. It's not all black and white to her, there's a grey area. I think she'll look at that and give the kind of advice that a vice president should give to a president."

"And she's young," he added. "It think the Republican ticket needs that. I am concerned with McCain's age, but with such a young running mate, I think we'll be OK."

Rose Diboma, 23, of Mesa is hoping the Democrats will take back the White House. She believes it's important to make a big change in Washington to make a big difference in America.

"I'm definitely going to vote. I don't want a Republican in office," she said. "I think Obama will get us back on track."

QUEEN CREEK

With the weekend upon them, voters in Queen Creek on a recent Friday morning were getting ready for time off. But soldiers whose work week doesn't fall Monday to Friday weren't far from their minds.

"The war in Iraq is getting too out of control. It needs to switch back to Afghanistan," said John Englert, 21, a part-time employee at Dunkin Donuts in Queen Creek and a student at Pima Medical College.

Health care was another concern for people, who cited the high cost of medical care and health insurance.

"Health care is really important, especially for small business owners, to be able to provide affordable health care to prevent sicknesses," said Lizzy Ellery, 22, of Gilbert, who works at the Dunkin Donuts.

"We need something that's affordable, that will help us with the cost of health care," said Vincen Nguyen, 36, a nail technician in Queen Creek.

Nguyen went on to say there's little to do about the economy. America is just a cycle of "10 years up and 10 years down."

"I cannot blame it on Mr. Bush. I cannot blame it on any party," he said.

Nguyen said he has been a U.S. citizen for 10 years, but hasn't been a regular voter.

"Arizona has a senator running for president. I will probably vote for John McCain."

Matthew Figley sat outside a Sonic in Gilbert with his two school-age kids after school let out.

Figley is an Army veteran and served in Bosnia, and after talking about the election in general, he turned to U.S. military efforts across the world.

"I'm pro-military," said Figley, who spent 10 years in uniform. "I can't say I agree (with) the amount of time we've spent with our troops abroad. ... I support McCain 100 percent on that one because he is for the troops. He is trying to see an end to a very dark tunnel. ... The end result is for all of us getting out of there."

Keith Rowlands, 36, of Gilbert, is an ardent supporter of each American's duty to vote. He took a quick break from a business meeting outside a coffee shop to talk.

"I think it is extremely important that we get someone in office that is focused on fiscal responsibility," Rowlands said. "Economically, obviously, whether or not it's official, we're in a recession. We need to have someone who has the experience to guide us from the recession we're in into a time of prosperity."

Rowlands even held a convention-watching party for McCain, but welcomed Obama supporters.

"My main thing is to get people included. I think that being on the fence is the worst thing you can do," he said.

APACHE JUNCTION

Issues more than candidates have caught the attention of Apache Junction voters this year.

Brenda Barnum, 31, a waitress in Apache Junction, who is studying sustainability at Arizona State University, said sustainability is the No. 1 election issue for her as well.

"(We need) somebody who is going to get alternative fuel sources and create jobs but not at the expense of the environment or future generations to be able to utilize resources," said Barnum.

Becky Harden wants to be certain that whoever is elected will listen to the general public.

"Knowing the candidates really care about us, the people, and not just all the politics going on in Washington," said Harden, 38, of Queen Creek, a cashier at Apache Junction's Robert Horne Ford.

Perhaps all the hopes and desires from this election were best summarized by Ed Hansen, 60, a retired teacher in his second month of working as a car salesman in Apache Junction.

"It's frustrating because lots of promises are made that will never be kept," Hansen said. "I think the president will be responsible, but he can't control everything."

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