Delawareans take right to vote seriously

CHESWOLD — In these unsettled times, exercising the right to vote never seemed so important.

Whether the choice was Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich or Donald Trump, Delawareans voiced serious opinions after visiting the polls Tuesday morning.

Wil and Shirley Martin of Dover enter the Dover Elks to cast their vote in Tuesday's primary elections.

Wil and Shirley Martin of Dover enter the Dover Elks to cast their vote in Tuesday’s primary elections.

“It’s been a hugely upsetting year and after listening to the candidates it’s really hard to tell who is saying what,” Janeen Holding said in the Townsend Volunteer Fire Company parking lot.

“Really I believe we’ve all got to pray that God will find the right president for us.”

While not revealing her choice for the Democratic nominee, Ms. Holding said, “I’m for women.”

Participating in his first primary and saying, “I’m feeling the politics right now,” 22-year-old Gus Gallagher of Smyrna left no doubt of his choice of Democrats.

“I see where Bernie Sanders is coming from on health care and education,” said the Wilmington University student who is a substitute teacher in the Smyrna School District.

Beverly Garnett

Beverly Garnett

“I’m in school and it seems like I’m going to be paying off student loans until I’m 50. That’s something Bernie has talked about a lot, and how to put a stop to it.”

Absent any landslide victories by Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Gallagher said small state Delaware’s voting results would matter in the grand scheme this election season.

After listening to CNN intently and trying to sort out what candidates stand for, Smyrna’s Beverly Garnett settled on Hillary Clinton.

She wasn’t thrilled by the overall campaign so far, describing all the candidates as “bantering back and forth and fighting like the schoolchildren they say they are trying to protect.”

Mrs. Clinton’s experience in politics swayed Mrs. Garnett, despite past controversies.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” she said. “They’re trying to get her on Bengazi, but who am I to judge?

Carl Batson

Carl Batson

“I voted for her not because she’s a woman but because of what she stands for and how it relates to me.”

At the Little Creek Volunteer Fire Company, Carl Batson left after voting for Mr. Sanders, whom he described as “the lesser of two evils, I guess.”

Regarding Mrs. Clinton he said, “She’s done all this stuff while in office and had some serious issues. Plus, it always seems like she has a second agenda.

“Bernie claims to be giving all these things away while promising we’ll not pay more taxes, but there’s no way possible to pay for all that he’s been promising.”

With a daughter in school, Cheswold’s Milton Chase said he supported Mr. Sanders and his push to make all public colleges and universities tuition free, among other aspects of his platform.

Milton Chase

Milton Chase

“It’s not the same old politician’s approach,” Mr. Chase reasoned. “If Bernie takes over I think he won’t be afraid to take on the establishment and make some changes that will help out the rest of us.”

Sitting in his car and ready to leave the Cheswold Volunteer Fire Company, Andrew Blake said Mrs. Clinton, “seems honest with the policies that’s she’s coming up with, things that are feasible, unlike Bernie Sanders’ ideas that in reality just aren’t possible.”

Standing in the parking lot across from Cheswold fire hall, RuthAnn Purchase had a noticeable “Bernie Sanders” placard in her front window. She’s a Green party member and couldn’t vote Tuesday, but believes Mr. Sanders comes closest to her ideals of limiting campaign corporations and cutting away at corporate influence of elections.

“I read a study showing that only 16 percent of those under 30 even believe reaching the American Dream is possible, so there’s a lot of hopelessness in our future right now,” Mrs. Purchase said.

“I believe that when we return to a democracy where human beings influence the legislators then there is hope for all of us at the local, starting with Cheswold.”

Reasons to vote

Wearing an “I Like Ike” button and fresh from casting a vote for Mr. Trump, Cheswold’s Mike Fredrikson said the United States manufacturing base has been given to foreign interests, hampering any chance at building a solid economic base here.

Mike Fredriksen

Mike Fredriksen

“We’ve got our nose stuck in everyone else’s business around the world and we’re not taking care of our home here,” he said.

Mr. Fredrikson called for other countries to “step up” and said, “We give $1.5 billion to Egypt and they burn our flag. They’re the big gun over in the Middle East and should step up and take charge of fixing the problems over there.”

Mostly, however, Mr. Fredrikson lamented what he described as less than half the eligible populace turning out to cast votes.

“How many men have died to give us the ability to exercise this right today,” he said.

“It saddens me to think that 53 to 54 percent of those who could vote, don’t vote.”

Ultimately, Mr. Fredrikson said he was fired up for this special Tuesday in Delaware.

“Who am I, but I get to vote for who will become the most powerful man in the world,” he said. “Of course, I’m excited,”

In Townsend, John Mason pledged his support to Republican Ted Cruz, because “he knows our country, knows our constitution and has my values.”

There’s plenty to fix here, Mr. Mason said.

“We have problems financially, we have problems morally,” he said. “Financially we’re already broke and we have to make our house fiscally sound.

Daniel Weishaupt Jr. and Sr.

Daniel Weishaupt Jr. and Sr.

“I would like to borrow money like the government does and then not own up to it … When it comes to morals, we have many issues, too. There is a difference between men and women … and the Constitution is not there to get into marriage and religion. There should be limited federal powers, but the states have given up those powers.”

Aiming to show his 6-year-old son the importance of “just one of the many rights we have,” Daniel Weishaupt went to the Cheswold polling place and voted for Mr. Trump.

“I like the way he tells it as it is and doesn’t beat around the bushes,” Mr. Weishaupt said. “He’s focused on getting American business back on track and keeping jobs here.”

‘Losing our country’

Also in Cheswold, Judy Kelly said she supported Mr. Trump, fearing “we’re losing our country to everyone else.”

Judy and James Kelly

Judy and James Kelly

She’s not fond of excessive federal assistance and believes Mr. Trump is “so different” and “not afraid to take on the establishment, which is what somebody needs to do right now.”

Her husband James went with Mr. Cruz, citing his “graduating at the top of his Harvard class, being a great orator and having a good program outlined while many times pushing for smaller government. Trump’s ideas seem to be quite limited.”

Things must change, Mr. Kelly said.

“I’m very disappointed with the Republican leadership,” he said. “They’ve been pushovers for the current administration and it’s cost us a lot of money and has put our kids in debt to the point that it will take decades at the least to get out of.”

Despite being able to see the Smyrna Middle School polling place from her home, Elizabeth Jackson was sent from there to the Main Street location to cast her lot.

Joe and Carol Quinn of Dover leave the Dover Elks after happily performing their civic duty and voting in Tuesday's primary.

Joe and Carol Quinn of Dover leave the Dover Elks after happily performing their civic duty and voting in Tuesday’s primary.

Ms. Jackson was determined to vote for Mr. Sanders, whom she believed has the best interests of her four sons future in his policy, especially on how to pay for education.
There’s been no clear consensus on the best Democratic choice in the days before the primary, Ms. Jackson said.

“It’s been so broken up,” she said. “Some of my friends said they were for Hillary Clinton but I had to follow what will affect my own personal situation the most, and that led me to Bernie Sanders.”

A change at the top of the political spectrum can hopefully filter downward, Ms. Holding said.

“The congressmen and congresswomen all they do is fight,” Ms. Holding said in Townsend. “Their salaries are way too high and their vacations are awful.

“They should be made to stay in their house until they do what they were elected to do.”

Making up minds

Although unwilling to say for whom he had cast his ballot, state Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, said he made up his mind about a month ago.

“There’s a lot to take into consideration,” he said after voting at the Delaware Fire School in Dover. “You’re not only voting for a candidate for president, you’re voting for the team of people they’re going to surround themselves with, too.”

Dover resident and voter Kenneth Roach leaves the polls at Dover Elks Tuesday.

Dover resident and voter Kenneth Roach leaves the polls at Dover Elks Tuesday.

Rep. Paradee added that which candidate would make the best choices for the economy also played a big role in his decision.

Other Dover residents hadn’t made up their mind as early as Rep. Paradee.

“I actually went in undecided,” said Lawrence Hampton, a registered Democrat. “I’m not completely satisfied that who I voted for will be the best choice for president, but here, you can only choose between the people on your party’s ballot.”

Laurel Baird came to the Fire School with a plan of whom to vote for, but the candidate she chose wasn’t her first choice either.

“I’m a Republican and all of the candidates I liked kept dropping out, so I wasn’t left with many choices,” she said. “But it wasn’t until after the Florida primary when I made my decision.”

By that time, the field had been whittled down to Cruz, Kasich and Trump.

Staff writer Ashton Brown contributed to this story. She can be reached at or 741-8272. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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