…Signs of the Time

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, October 11, 2008

Molly Young, of Ironton, is interested in politics both on the local and national level.

“I think we need change and I’m excited to see the process that occurs in times of an election and how it all works,” she said.

Young is not alone and may be representative of just how engaged voters are in the 2008 General Election set for Nov. 4.

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Whether a Democrat or a Republican, Lawrence Countians have opinions and, just weeks before they go to the polls with the rest of the nation to choose national and local leaders, some of them are willing to share their thoughts on the country, their community and what they think is important in Decision 2008.

Picking a president

Jim Smith, of Getaway, has several signs in a cluster on the edge of his yard along State Route 243. Smith has mostly Republican signs but there is at least one Democrat amongst the others.

And there is a McCain/Palin sign.

Smith is a Democrat who used to be a Republican but will now vote for the GOP ticket for president.

“I just switched,” he explained. “I wanted Hillary because I think she was the best candidate. She didn’t get it (the Democratic nomination) but I would’ve voted for her. I’ve been Republican all my life. This year I pulled a Democratic ballot for the first time in my life. I’m 68 years old.”

What changed his mind— and his political affiliation— was President George W. Bush. He liked the first President Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, the sitting president’s father, but W. is another matter.

“He’s been about the worst president we ever had,” Smith said. “ He lied about the war, and there were other lies. It made me a Democrat.”

In spite of his anti-Bush stance and his recent switch to the Democratic Party, he will vote for McCain over Democrat candidate Barack Obama.

If Smith has strong opinions about Bush, he’s got a soft spot for one other Republican, Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate.

“I’m in love with Palin,” he smiled. “I think she’s pretty smart.” He is not happy with all those Hollywood actors who deride her.

If Smith was the Democrat who used to be a Republican, James Spurlock, of Rome Township, is the Republican who used to be a Democrat.

These days Spurlock has a lot on his mind. The economy is, he said, the worst he’s seen since the Great Depression and he is old enough to remember how bad that was.

“As a nation we are in debt trillions of dollars,” Spurlock said. “Do you know how many zeros that is? If people would just stop and think. This country is in bad shape and its not going to get any better if we don’t tighten the screws.”

Spurlock said he does not know enough about Obama to make an informed opinion; most of what he had heard has been generated by the Obama campaign. But what he does know of McCain, he likes. He said he thought McCain has been around awhile and has proven himself as a leader.

“Obama may be a good person, he probably is, but as it stands now I will vote for McCain,” Spurlock said.

Donald Blake, of Burlington, has exactly one sign in his yard along County Road 1 and that sign reads “Obama.” And that is who he will vote for on election day.

“There are a few things I disagree with but overall, I think he’s okay,” Blake said. One thing he likes about Obama is, he isn’t Bush.

“We can’t stand another eight years of what we have now,” he said.

Blake said he think Obama has integrity and has not lied about anything yet. “I value that quite a bit in a person,” he said.

Blake said he believes life begins at conception and that’s one area where he disagrees with his candidate. But he conceded that “if they try to outlaw abortion, it would probably be like prohibition” and, though he is a Christian, he does not have the right to enforce his beliefs on other people.

Does he feel more enthusiastic this year than in previous presidential election years? Yes, he said. And he added he is ready for the change he thinks Obama will bring.

His friend, Larry Tawney is an Obama supporter, too. Tawney’s yard has an Obama sign, and signs for several other Democrats, too. His political signs are, perhaps in his mind, badges of honor and maybe, red badges of courage.

“I’m not ashamed to be a Democrat even though I think all my neighbors are Republicans,” he mused.

Tawney, of South Point, preferred Hillary Clinton but was nonetheless impressed with Obama.

“We were watching him stump for someone else a few years ago and I turned to my wife and said ‘he looks like presidential material,’” Tawney recalled. “I think Obama is smart and he can do the job,” Tawney said. “But I’m so sick of Bush I’d vote for Hitler. It’s not just the war, the economy is going south. We need change. If we don’t get change I’m afraid for this country.”

Not every yard sprouting signs is home to a Lawrence Countian espousing political sentiments. Daniel Boster, of Chesapeake, has a slew of signs in his yard.

“I let them put them up,” he said.

But there are no candidates he particularly likes. He did vote though, by absentee ballot. He declined to say whom he voted for.

Local folks

While the presidential race may be getting the most attention when people start talking politics these days, you would not necessarily know it given the billboards and campaign signs that tout the merits of local candidates. Some yards have a sea of GOP signs.

Other yards are an enclave of Democratic support.

Issues are another topic that will get Lawrence Countians to the polls. Spurlock said he does not support the Fairland High School stadium renovations, though he supported the levy to pay for new schools a few years ago. Spurlock said he knows of people who are having a hard time making ends meet now. Adding more taxes to their situation would make their already bad situation worse.

“I know people who are going to lose their homes,” he said.

Blake said will vote against Issue 6 to allow a casino in central Ohio and is against the alcohol options on the local ballot, though his friend Tawney said he is in favor of the casino gambling issue.