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Nov 4, 2008 9:29 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton voters say election is historic

Nov 4, 2008 9:29 AM

Republican, Democrat or independent, East Hampton area voters agreed this week, that Tuesday’s was an historic, life-changing election and, for the most part, they believed that their vote had counted.

“Once or twice in your lifetime, you realize that you are in the midst of something historic and profound,” said former town supervisor and state Democratic leader Judith Hope. “It’s a rare moment for political and national renewal. I treasure my opportunity to vote. I think it’s an amazing thing that once every four years we have an opportunity to have a revolution in government without firing a shot. I do think the change we’re going to see is nothing short of revolutionary and very profound.”

“The whole year has been historic, with a woman and a black man running for president for the first time,” said Tim Sullivan, a former state Democratic Committeeman who has become a Republican after he moved to East Hampton because, he said, the Democrats in town were too liberal. Mr. Sullivan said he planned to vote for Senator John McCain.

“The individual’s votes counts, whether or not your state goes your way. It’s very important for people to vote. We don’t want another situation where you have a man elected president who is voted in by the electoral process and not the popular vote.”

East Hampton writer and publisher Lynne Scanlon was still an undecided voter shortly before Election Day, though she believed the election was important this year and that her vote, whichever way it was to go, would count. She is a second-home owner here and a first-time voter in East Hampton, having voted in Connecticut all her life.

“I am in a quandary over who I will vote for. I have a lot of respect for McCain because of his suffering and his knowledge about how the government runs, but Obama has a bootstrap kind of story which is impressive. I’m going to be one of those who walks into the booth and says, ‘Who is it going to be?’”

East Hampton artist and lifelong Democrat Ralph Carpentier planned to vote for Obama. “Absolutely, my vote always counts. Everybody’s vote always counts. If people don’t vote, they don’t deserve to live in a country like ours. If Obama doesn’t win, I’m still grateful for how this country works.”

Donald Ferriss, of East Hampton, who also planned to vote for McCain, said, “I think its an extremely important election because the choice to me is a clear one.” But he said he was not so sure his vote will count in New York, which is largely expected to vote Democratic. “But I’ll vote because I always do.”

Mr. Ferriss said he considered McCain a “flawed candidate who doesn’t understand the economy. But neither does Barack. The problem with Barack is that he perceives business not as the engine by which wealth is created, but sees it as a predatory menace. A lot of people who were eager to see Obama elected is because they want to see big business punished.”

Most people are looking to government for the answers, he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want the government to help me with anything. The scariest thing is someone rings the bell and says, ‘I’m here from the government and I’m here to help.’ All the things the government runs are hopeless. In East Hampton, the government turned a $15-million surplus into a $15-million deficit in less than three years. Could it be any worse?”

The owner of Topping Horse Farm in Sagaponack, Tinka Topping, a retired psychiatric social worker, said this election was “the most important one since the Second World War. It’s an absolutely critical, pivotal, intensely dramatic election. It will change this country completely, depending on who is elected.” Ms. Topping said she planned to vote for Obama.

“I think everyone’s vote counts, and it is one’s responsibility to vote as a citizen. Every vote is essential and everyone should feel that and be registered to vote,” she said.

Ms. Topping returned recently from Pennsylvania, which was considered a swing state, to work on the Obama campaign. And she also worked the phones from here for Obama. “We’ve been targeting the undecided voter and trying to push them a little bit in our direction,” she said.

One Springs voter, an artist, who asked not to be identified, said she takes the opportunity to vote very seriously this year because she is a life-long Democrat who, for the first time, planned to vote Republican.

“My vote is an anti-Obama vote,” she said, describing this year’s election as life-changing for her. A former Senator Hillary Clinton supporter, she said she planned not to vote for Senator Barack Obama “because he has a close association with people who are racist and anti-Semitic, like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago. Obama is also sympathetic to the Palestinians and is anti-Israel. To me, it is a disgrace that the Democratic Party is running someone like Obama.”

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