Sunday, October 31, 2004
Voters anxious for election
By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer
INDEPENDENCE - It was a bright late morning Wednesday at the Independence Senior Center and Frank Hutchinson was sitting across the room from a guy dressed like a nun.
Halloween came a little early for the center's regular crowd, but the election can't come soon enough for Hutchinson, an 86-year-old retired meat cutter from Philadelphia who moved to Independence a year ago to be closer to his daughter.
"It's been nasty," said Hutchinson just prior to the center's Halloween party as a group of seniors played indoor volleyball in a corner by slapping a beach ball over a net while seated in chairs.
"All the negative ads, all the fighting. I'll be glad when it's over," he said. "But I'm still going to vote, and I'm going to vote for John Kerry."
As Election Day draws near, statewide polls continue to show President Bush commanding a 17-point lead over Kerry. Voters across Northern Kentucky are worried mostly about national security, the economy and health care, according to interviews conducted over the last week with Boone, Kenton and Campbell county residents.
Hutchinson, a Democrat, is concerned about the cost of prescription drugs. He wants a change in Washington.
"They cut our Medicare premiums and then price of the drugs go up," said Hutchinson. "This prescription drug benefit doesn't seem like it's helping anyone. People can't even understand it."
Hutchinson called the war in Iraq "horrible" and said Bush can't be trusted.
"We need somebody who is going to get us out of there," he said.
Peggy Finch of Boone County lives in Hebron's Treetops subdivision. She votes in one of the most Republican-dominated precincts in Northern Kentucky and lives in the largest GOP-controlled county in the state.
So yes, she is voting Republican on Tuesday.
"And so are all of my neighbors," Finch, 48, said enthusiastically.
In her strong GOP enclave, the election is the talk if the neighborhood.
"More so than in the past," said Finch, a mother of two children ages 19 and 10.
Like so many voters, Finch said her biggest concern in the election is national security.
"I'm voting for President Bush, and I'm encouraging other people to vote for him, because of his stand on national security," Finch said Saturday. "He is a man of integrity who has been very consistent on this issue and he has high moral values. That's very important to me and to a lot of voters."
The tape released Friday that plays a message from Osama Bin Laden to the American people will prove to be a political advantage for the president, Finch predicted, because Bush has shown he is more capable of dealing with terrorists.
"Hopefully it will make people a little more aware of that we need President Bush, not someone that flip-flops," Finch said in an oft-repeated criticism of Kerry.
Bush's handling of the war on terrorism also drives Mick Lewis' support. The 40-year-old retired salesman, substitute teacher and stay-at-home-dad made his mind up months ago.
"I shut it down, I haven't listened to anything for the last six months," said Lewis, a registered Republican who is the father of children ages 13, 11 and 9. "I knew that security was going to be the major issue in the race, and I knew I was going to vote for Bush.
"I just think he is doing a pretty good job," Lewis said. "And I think once the election is over, he's really going to let it go over there with some heavy attacks. He's been holding back because of the election, but it's coming. We'll go in there and take care of the problem areas in Iraq and things will start turning around."
And once the elections are held, the economy, which has shown strong signs of recovery recently, will blossom, Lewis said.
"I've been out looking for a new SUV," he said. "I went to three car lots in one day and all of the (salespeople) told me things are slow. Buyers are waiting to see what happens in the election, but once we get passed that things will start to pick pack up."
Debbie Augsback isn't so sure. The 41-year-old single mom and mother of two teenage boys is frustrated about the deficit that has exploded under Bush's watch.
"I look at the amount of money we are spending to rebuild what we just blew up and it worries me," said Augsback, a registered nurse and registered Republican.
She voted for Bush four years ago but is still undecided which way she'll go Tuesday.
"It bothers me that we aren't getting all the information we should about the war, and it bothers me that we have this deficit and what that is going to do to the economy," Augsback said. "We're going to have a lot of young people coming out of college looking for jobs, but will they have jobs to find? I really worry about that."
Tony Stuntebeck, a 41-year-old carpenter from Fort Thomas and the father of two daughters, has grown so fatigued with negative campaigning he is leaning toward not voting at all.
"Is there a place on the ballot," he said, "for none of the above?"
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