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Donkeys. elephants compete for prizes at Fulton County Fair

August 27, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER/Staff Correspondent

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Listening closely to the Fulton County Fair this week, residents could hear the delicate rhetoric of donkeys and elephants under the familiar squeals of champion hogs and whinnies from well-bred horses.

Lounging under white tents decorated by symbols of American nationalist pride, these donkeys and elephants competed not for the blue ribbon, but for the blue-collar vote.

On one side of the fair, under the symbol of the donkey, sat members of the Fulton County Democrats. A few tents down, under the symbol of the elephant, stood members of the Fulton County Republicans. Yet the space between was amicable, according to members of both parties.

"We are a small community," Republican Mikeal Fix said. "We know each other as individuals rather than by our association with our party."

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"We get along just fine in Fulton County," Democrat Rheon Gelvin said.

Strewn on the table before Fix, a resident of Hustontown, Pa., were numerous pamphlets and stickers strongly advocating the Republican platform. Likewise, pamphlets advocating the Democratic platform decorated the tables next to Gelvin, a resident of Hustontown, Pa.

Fix admits that while the relationship between the two parties might be friendly, the rhetoric is not.

"This is political," he said, pointing to the literature. "It is not personal."

Much as they do in Congress, the two political parties in Fulton County disagree on the major issue facing the county.

"Health care is the biggest issue," Gelvin said. "With the Republicans cutting Social Security, older residents are concerned about how they will pay for health care in the future."

"Fulton County's big issue is property taxes," Fix argued. "People feel they are paying too much."

Despite their disagreement, Fulton County Commissioner Bonnie Mellott-Keefer said the two parties have come together on the issue of farm conservation.

"We have one Democrat on the commission and two Republicans," she said. "Yet we all stand behind the Clean and Green Program to conserve county farmland."

The two parties also discussed national issues with residents at the fair as they advocated the various candidates and registered voters.

"We will register anyone," Fix said. "Republicans, Independents and even Democrats."

Despite their amicable relations and bipartisan issues, at the end of the day, the two parties are partisan at the core.

"All I know is that if we don't have a Democrat in office next, the whole country is headed downhill," Gelvin said.

"People vote Republican because they share conservative values like pro-life," Fix said. "As long as the Republicans are for those values, I say vote Republican."

Approximately 5,200 Fulton County residents are registered Republicans, while 3,000 are registered Democrats.

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