Skagit County voters prepare for election

October 8, 2018

With the 2018 general election about a month away, the Skagit Valley Herald decided to gauge the mood of voters who live, work or go to school in Skagit County.

The reporting staff asked 15 community members how they feel about their preferred party, how they feel about the direction in which the country is moving politically and what issues are most important to them.

Here are the responses from the informal survey:

Eric Shen

The Anacortes man sees this as an important election.

“This and the next election will be very critical to path the U.S. takes for decades to come,” he said. “I feel the political path being pursued (by the current federal administration) will weaken the influence of our country in the world, our internal strengths, and worsen the health of the environment in this country and around the world.”

He said electing Democrats would change the direction of the nation’s policies. The environment would be better protected and the role of the U.S. as a global power would be ensured.

Jack William Bell

The east Skagit County resident said he does not support a particular party, but became anti-Republican when the party nominated Donald Trump for president in 2016.

“The Republican Party has become the party of misogyny and white power,” he said. “They must be stopped at all levels even when the local candidate does not subscribe to those principles.”

He said the political divide in the U.S. is growing, or at least is changing.

“The divide has changed from one between cultural conservatives and liberals to one between those who want to preserve white male control of our institutions and those who do not,” he said.

Michele Addison

The Mount Vernon resident is an independent who has voted Democrat nationally since 2008. She said she believes having Democrats gain control of Congress in this election is paramount.

“We cannot stop Trump’s destruction of the norms nor the rampant abuse of office of his cabinet until there is a pause,” she said.

She said she believes term limits need to be in place for members of Congress.

“Dark money from corporate and PACs are skewing the parties and old thinking continues to hold sway,” she said. “Term limits and campaign finance are key issues that need to be resolved.”

David Stewart

The Mount Vernon retiree said he thinks the country is moving in the right direction but not fast enough.

“The Republican Party needs more help,” he said. “We need to vote in more conservatives so we can make our country great again.”

The former refinery worker said federal and state elected officials are too liberal, especially the state’s U.S. senators — Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

Stewart said the most important issue in this election is keeping Republicans in control of Congress.

Aracelly Schultz

Health care is of paramount importance to this undecided voter.

“I feel that there are a high number of people that do not have access to health care,” Schultz said. “There are a lot of uninsured people.”

But even those with health insurance may struggle to afford the high co-pays, she said.

“There are still people who have to make decisions about whether to buy food or go to the doctor,” Schultz said.

She said she thinks the country is moving forward, but slowly.

Jim Dalton

The Lake McMurray man said the direction the country is moving politically is abominable.

“It’s just a circus,” he said. “The view of America around the world is just being tarnished.”

Dalton said a major issue is the lack of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.

“There is no willingness on either side to make decisions. Both parties aren’t serving our country well,” he said.

Dalton said getting Democrats in control of Congress will mean better care for the poor, better foreign policies and hopefully bring about a Democratic president who won’t disgrace the country so badly.

Alondra Caro

The 21-year-old Skagit Valley College student isn’t happy with where the country is headed.

“I feel like since Trump got in a lot of things have gone downhill,” she said.

Caro’s top issues in this election are gun control, foreign relations and getting Democrats in control of Congress.

“I feel like a lot of Republicans are more interested in keeping things the way they used to be,” she said.

The partisan divide, Caro said, has grown since the 2016 presidential election.

While she isn’t happy with President Trump, Caro said overall she places more trust in her federal officials than in her state officials.

Elizabeth Kesterson

The 18-year-old first-time voter is happier with those who represent her on the state and local levels than those who represent her nationally.

“I think the people we have in those (federal) positions do not accurately represent the people,” Kesterson said. “I think we need more diversity in those positions.”

She places more trust in local officials, she said, because they seemed to be more connected to the communities they serve.

“I think it’s easier to contact those lower-level officials,” Kesterson said. “And you have more opportunity to learn about how they affect your community.”

Gun control, she said, is the most important issue in this year’s election, and something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Kesterson, who identifies as a Democrat, said she is happy with the direction of her party overall, but when asked about the direction of the country, she had one word: “Terrible.”

Jason Swingle

The 30-year-old, who identifies as an independent leaning slightly right, said he is unhappy with both major political parties.

“In general, the political climate is not so good,” Swingle said.

His top three issues, he said, are the economy, the environment and foreign relations.

His trust in politicians is low, though he said he has slightly more faith in local politicians.

Overall, he said, people trust the people they know.

Cliff Clayton

The Mount Vernon democrat said he’s pleased with his party’s current direction, and his priorities for this election are to put Democrats in control of Congress and “to get rid of Trump.”

Clayton said he believes the public’s partisan divide is getting wider. He is not satisfied with federally elected officials, and he said his opinion of national politics will affect how he votes for local candidates.

“Anyone who shows support for Trump I will vote against,” he said.

Don Boehnlein

The Mount Vernon Democrat said he isn’t pleased with his party’s current direction.

“I’m a Democrat but don’t prefer the Democratic officials of today,” Boehnlein said.

Still, he said he remains hopeful that things will get better.

“If young people and women step up to the plate and get the ball rolling, I’m hopeful things might get better with the midterms,” Boehnlein said.

He said he is concerned about voter apathy.

“If we saw Americans show up in force to vote, you would see how America really feels about issues,” he said.

Boehnlein said his opinion of national politics will affect his vote for local candidates.

“There’s no way I’d vote for any Republican,” he said. “They’ve just gotten ridiculous.”

Susan Boehnlein

The Mount Vernon woman said while she doesn’t have a preferred party, she “leans very liberal but will listen to anyone.”

In regard to the country’s political direction, Boehnlein said she feels it will get worse before it gets better.

She said her priorities include the environment, health care, gun control and support for small businesses.

Boehnlein said she is not satisfied with federal elected officials.

“We need more real people and less degrees and lawyers,” she said.

Sara Holahan

The 66-year-old Anacortes woman said she typically votes for Democrats.

However, she said she’s not thrilled with the direction the party is moving. She said neither party is taking the influence of money in politics seriously enough.

“Money has too much influence on all our elected officials,” she said. “They aren’t looking out for the common man.”

Holahan said she’s passionate about environmental issues, and said she’s been frustrated by the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency, including the relaxing of regulations on pollution and vehicle fuel consumption.

“If we don’t have clean water or clean air, it doesn’t matter if we have jobs,” she said.

Holahan said the divide between political parties has only gotten worse in recent years.

“When I grew up, the parties at least talked to each other,” she said.

The 46-year-old Mount Vernon man, who said he is an infrequent voter, said he made sure to update his voter registration this year so he could support Democrats in congressional races.

He said he sides with Democrats on most things, but he would support a Republican president who he felt was equipped for the job.

Cowen said he’s disappointed in congressional Republicans for not standing up to Trump.

He said he tries to keep updated on state and local politics, but said there’s just too much going on for him to stay current.

“It’s like college football,” he said. “There are too many teams.”

Mike Ptacek

The Mount Vernon resident said he is pleased with the way the country is moving politically.

“No matter what people say, I think it’s doing good. My retirement is better ... everybody around me is employed. From my perspective things are good,” he said.

Ptacek, an independent “leaning toward conservative, almost libertarian,” said he feels the most important issue for the nation to address moving forward is border security — an issue President Trump has said will require building a wall along the nation’s southern border.

“You wouldn’t let someone you don’t know into your home,” Ptacek said of the issue of illegal immigration.

He said he believes local and national officials need to be replaced with representatives who will do more to address the problem and crimes associated with it.

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