As election nears, residents have much on minds

April 04, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE and MARLO BARNHART

TRI-STATE - The war in Iraq, health-care costs, taxes, gas prices, job creation and moral issues were among the topics Tri-State area residents said Saturday they were most concerned about when thinking of the presidential election this fall.

Job creation and the war on terrorism concern John Jerome, 56, of Charles Town, W.Va.

"I think we've blundered into a big mistake when we went into Iraq and we're going to be paying for it for a long time," Jerome said.

Ryan Yost, 22, of Halfway, said he's interested in whether the presidential candidates will pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

"I think they're over there doing some good," Yost said. "I think pulling them out now only hurts the cause rather than helps it."


Charmain Summers, 50, of Hagerstown, thinks just the opposite.

Summers wants a president that will bring "our boys" home.

"Why are we fighting?" Summers asked.

Jimmy Reed, 32, of Hancock, said he wants a president that ends the situation in Iraq quicker.

"Seems like it's dragging on too long ... I'm all for what we did," Reed said. "We just need to start getting them back home."

Introducing himself as a lifelong Republican, Calvin Dick of Martinsburg, W.Va., said that when he goes to the polls, he may just have to vote Democratic.

"I really think we are in Iraq for vengeance and if that's the case, we don't need to be there," Dick said.

A Vietnam veteran, Dick, 62, said he doesn't know why soldiers are in Iraq fighting and dying.

"I will be watching that very closely," Dick said.

"I guess the war in Iraq is a concern. I guess the honesty in politics bothers me the most," said Angela Marschner, 46, of Hagerstown. "You want to believe what politicians - whether Democrat or Republican - you want to have faith they're leading the country in the right direction."

When it comes to casting her ballot this presidential election year, Alicia Van Metre, 20, of Martinsburg, said she will be keeping close tabs on how candidates stand on the war on terrorism.

But on a more personal note, Van Metre said there is also the issue of gay marriages.

"I am very, very much against that," she said. "It may seem small to some people, but it's important to me."

Barbara Mason, 64, of Martinsburg, feels that moral issues and how the candidates stand on them will help her make that all-important decision when she goes to vote.

"Gay marriage and family values are my issues," Mason said, noting that she is against gay marriages, but for family values.

Jackie Snider, 41, of the Mercersburg, Pa., area, said she was most concerned about abortion and gay marriage, both of which she opposes.

"I'm a Christian and I feel our president is doing a good job," Snider said. "He's a Godly man and I hope he gets elected."

The big issue for Martha Mason was gas prices, but when asked if she would vote for a president based on that issue, Mason said she will vote for Democrat John Kerry.

"Primarily because I don't care for George Bush," said Mason, 70, of Hagerstown. "I don't like the way he got into the war with no way to get out of it."

Kenny Goetz, 31, of Chambersburg, Pa., said he was concerned about high gas prices and didn't want to see the United States dip into its oil reserves.

"I'm a Republican, but if you put a Democrat back in office, I think things will get a little better," Goetz said. The economy was better and people could get jobs when a Democrat was in office, he said.

Harry Miller, 63, of Chambersburg, also was concerned about gas and jobs.

"I'm getting to retirement age, but still I want to work," Miller said.

Many companies don't help employees with health insurance anymore, so you have to be able to pay for it yourself, Miller said.

Being a senior citizen, Rusty Hawbaker said health care concerns him.

"I'll be 68 years old in July. I work part time so that I have insurance," said Hawbaker, of Mercersburg. "Almost $200 a month, it cost me for insurance."

He's also concerned about job creation.

"Since I'm retired, jobs really don't matter, but there's a lot of young people who need jobs," Hawbaker said.

Williamsport couple Joe and Rose Lerch, both 42, were concerned about illegal immigrants.

"All the people that's coming in, it should be limited," Rose Lerch said.

Joe Lerch said he also thought people were getting taxed too much.

Elinor Smith, 74, who lives east of Hagerstown, said her big issue was taxes.

"Every time we turn around, we're getting another tax," Smith said.

Tracy Montedoro, 35, of Greencastle, Pa., wants to see improvements made in education.

"Looking at salaries and benefits and things like that for teachers," said the former Washington County teacher. "They're always the ones left behind."

Betty Hartman, 73, of Hagerstown, said she wants more federal funding for teachers' salaries and classroom construction.

Dawna Barnhart, 38, of Hagerstown, said she would vote for the candidate with the best plan to control the cost of prescriptions and health care.

Bessie Honsacker is 80 years old and health care is very important to her.

"Prescription costs worry me even though I have insurance for that, unlike a lot of people," the Martinsburg resident said.

Although she hasn't been faced with it, Honsacker said she wouldn't want to have to choose between buying medicine or buying food.

"Health care is going to be big with me," said Glenda Hoffman, who used to work in the health-care field.

The cost of care for older residents and their prescriptions need to stay affordable, said Hoffman, 40, of Martinsburg.

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