Locals share conflicted feelings as Election Day looms

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Sharlyne Kinnison shared her mixed views on the 2012 presidential campaign and upcoming election at Ava Roasteria in downtown Beaverton on Tuesday. Sharlyne Kinnison thinks it’s worthwhile to listen to presidential candidates discuss issues affecting America’s future but also wishes campaigns didn’t always turn so petty and personal.

“They’ve given us the chance to see their sides,” she says of leading contenders Democratic President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican. “I just hate the jabs at each other. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think they need to bash each other. I want to hear their opinions, not the negativity.”

Kinnison’s view was fairly common among those who chattted with the Valley Times about the 2012 election season Tuesday afternoon at Ava Roasteria on Southwest Second Street in downtown Beaverton.

With exactly one week to go before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6, local citizens expressed a range of feelings — from relative apathy to passionate engagement — about the national and local election cycle now in its home stretch.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - While studying at Ava Roasteria on Tuesday afternoon, college students Elizabeth Eldred and her friend Evan Eldridge say they're keeping this year's presidential election at arm's length while they focus on school.

Political divide

Admitting she doesn’t follow the races as closely as her husband, Kinnison, a Cooper Mountain resident, nonetheless looks forward to sitting down with their mail-in ballots to discuss various candidates and measures.

“Not yet, but I will,” she said of tackling the ballot. “We sit down and do it together — not that we agree on everything.”

Evan Eldridge, a student at the Art Institute of Portland, says he enjoyed what he caught of the three debates between Romney and Obama.

“They were fairly entertaining,” he says while studying at Ava with his friend Elizabeth Eldred. “It’s interesting to see how it goes from them picking on each other to actually listening to each other. Politics kind of drives me insane. It goes over my head. Sometimes I can’t keep up.”

Eldred, a Portland Community College student, admits she gets tired of the two party standard bearers — not to mention her Democratic parents — telling her this or that side is “right.”

“It doesn’t seem like either side is best for us,” she says of the average American. “I don’t want to put the effort into keeping up. I don’t want to be either Democrat or Republican. I want to be myself.”

In the debates, there was general consensus in the media that Obama started off weak and unengaged but bounced back for the second and third debates, while Romney came on stronger than expected before leveling off. As with most modern debates, of course, there’s also a feeling both candidates expressed more sound bytes than substance — and that the debates became more contentious as they progressed.

“I guess they didn’t sway me,” says Kinnison, firmly decided on whom she’s voting for. “It was helpful to see each of them and how they came across. I think they are helpful, but they can also say what they want you to hear.”

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Aloha resident Cathy Sturgeon says she's tired of hyperbolic half-truths and outright lies passing for candidate's positions in the presidential election.

Truth of the matter

Aloha resident Cathy Sturgeon has also decided on her candidate. Her problem is convincing her parents and father in-law not to believe “every email they read” that she says uses hyperbolic “lies” to portray the president in a negative light.

“I wish they could have a gag order,” she says of the less reputable distributors of political factoids. “There are so many lies out there — people are so drawn to emotion and fear.”

A somewhat ambivalent Obama supporter, Sturgeon says she was happy to consider Romney if he could convince her his first four years would be worth firing the president before he’s able to complete the work he started.

“I haven’t been thrilled with Obama,” she admits. “And I wanted facts about Romney. Everyone told me they’re confident he would definitely do better with the economy, but nothing I’ve heard tells me that. None of the math holds up.”

When it came to the debates, Sturgeon gave it the old college try.

“I tune in to all the debates, then end up tuning out when all the backstabbing starts,” she says.

That said, she’ll be tuning back in to catch Tuesday night’s returns. “It’s too close to not be watching with bated breath.”

Keeping hope alive

Eugene Vincent, 21, a Portland resident who works in Beaverton, says he’s undecided about the first presidential election since he’s been eligible to vote.

“I kind of look at it like which one is less bad,” he admits, “which one is gonna screw us over less.”

Considering the past four years, Vincent offers a sentiment that might sum up the relative letdown some Obama supporters experienced from those hope-y, change-y days of 2008.

“There was the hope,” he says with a thoughtful pause. “It disappeared — but it was there.”

Regardless of her political involvement or ambivalence this election cycle, Kinnison still maintains her faith in the democratic process.

“I think it’s important to vote,” she says. “A lot of people think their vote doesn’t count, but it makes a difference.

“I would never give up.”

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