Some voters don’t like their choices on ballots

Posted: November 5, 2012

The Winchester Star

Paul Kushlak, a podiatrist, said he plans to vote for President Barack Obama because he supports the president’s health-care plan. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Some are passionate, some are still trying to settle on a candidate and some just want it to be over.

Three days before the presidential campaign comes to a close, potential voters’ feelings about Tuesday’s election vary wildly.

Though the Northern Shenandoah Valley hasn’t received a visit from any of the presidential or vice presidential candidates — the area is still critical to each campaign in what most polls indicate is a tight race.

An average of the seven most recent polls of likely Virginia voters shows Republican nominee Mitt Romney with about a 0.5 percentage point advantage over President Barack Obama.

Winchester resident Liz Steele, 29, plans to vote for Romney because she hopes he can improve the economy.

She said she recently saw a homeless person with a shopping cart on the Loudoun Street Mall, which convinced her that the economy needs to improve.

The final employment report before the election was released Friday. It showed a national gain of 171,000 jobs in October and added a new round of data to what has been the central focus of the campaign — the economy.

The number of new jobs beat expectations, but the increase in the country’s overall jobless rate to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent had Romney saying he could do better as president.

Obama, meanwhile, championed the nearly 5.5 million private-sector jobs created since he took office in the middle of the financial crisis.

A key factor: health care

Health care will also be the deciding factor in some local residents’ decisions.

Winchester’s Peter Stetler, 69, is a big fan of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, signed into law by Obama. To Stetler, it’s personal: he thinks the law saved the life of his cousn’s 22-year-old grandson, who was diagnosed with leukemia two months ago.

Without care, he was given two weeks to live, Stetler said. But a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans meant that his medical expenses were covered.

“Anyone who can save a life of someone in my family, gets my vote,” Stetler said. “Little people shouldn’t be abandoned. Obama has the heart and strength to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Paul Kushlak, a Winchester podiatrist, also supports Obama, primarily because of health-care reform.

Although Kushlak may have his Medicare reimbursements cut, he strongly favors ensuring that the uninsured and people with pre-existing conditions get health insurance.

Republicans have opposed the law because of the penalty for those who don’t purchase private insurance and other taxes included in the law.

Romney has vowed to repeal the law, but has said he would retain the parts that, according to polls, are popular with the public — such as young adults’ remaining on their parents’ plan and the pre-existing conditions requirement.

Obama and health-care professionals — including Mark Merrill, president and chief executive officer of Valley Health, parent organization of Winchester Medical Center — have said the mandate to purchase the insurance is the linchpin of the law in that it pays for the other provisions.

None of the above

Some local residents don’t care who wins and are simply looking forward to the end of the election process.

Larry Dehaven-Dawson is sick of the campaign commercials and political phone calls. He said he receives an average of seven each night and doesn’t plan to vote Tuesday.

“I make decisions based on what’s best for my family,” he said. “And neither candidate will affect my family.”

Frederick County resident Jim Lanning, 52, is still trying to make a choice.

He was a strong supporter of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and isn’t a big fan of Romney — who defeated Paul and others for the GOP nomination. And he doesn’t like Obama either.

“It’ll probably come down to a flip of the coin,” he said. “I’m just glad it’s finally coming to end so we can finally talk about something different.”

Winchester resident Betsy Whitehead, 68, agrees.

“I’ll be so glad when it’s over,” she said, saying she too is tired of the phone calls and television advertisements.

Some area residents are so tired of hearing about Obama and Romney and so unhappy with the two-party system that they’re supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson to help smaller parties gain prominence.

“We deserve more than two options,” said Nora Warren, an 18-year-old Winchester resident.

Eric Cales, 33, who lives in Strasburg but works in Winchester, also supports Johnson because he has beliefs that don’t fit neatly under either party’s tent.

Johnson wants to minimize government, leave religion out of the public sphere, legalize marijuana and keep illegal immigrants out of the United States.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com