St. Albans Voters Voice Concern Over Economy

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(Host) Jobs and the economy are at the top of voters’ lists of concerns this election season.

The VPR Vermont Poll found that two-thirds of Vermonters are worried about their own economic security or the future of family members’ jobs.

And that’s what voters have been telling us as we’ve traveled the state the past couple of weeks, gauging voters’ moods heading into the election.

Today, we close our series in St. Albans, where VPR’s Lynne McCrea heard a lot of concern about the economy.

(Holcomb)  "… Just taking care of the leaves on the sidewalk here…"

(McCrea) Sharon Holcomb is tidying up in front of her home décor and gift shop in downtown St. Albans…

(Holcomb) …Beautiful day here, can’t complain!

(McCrea) But for Holcomb, there’s plenty to complain about when it comes to the economy. She says it’s been a very tough year for her business. And she wants state leaders to do more in promoting Vermont, to bring more people to the area.

Holcomb has listened to the campaign proposals of both Brian Dubie and Peter Shumlin, and she has doubts about their promises.

(Holcolmb) "I think it’s very easy to sit there and say right now – "I’m going to try to do this, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this’. But have you ever really done it?"

(McCrea) Holcomb says she’s going to vote for Brian Dubie because she feels she knows him better.

(Holcomb) "He is…my husband is retired from the air national guard – of course he was big with that and so that’s really our big thing as far as Brian Dubie is concerned."

(McCrea) Holcomb says she is neither straight republican nor democrat, and that her vote is really based on how comfortable she is with the candidate.

(Hear bell ringing, street sounds)

(McCrea) That sentiment can be heard elsewhere in St. Albans. Further down Main Street, it’s lunchtime at Cosmic Bakery.

(Beers) "What’s important to me is keeping younger people in the state, creating jobs, building the economy…"

(McCrea) Denise Beers says she likes Peter Shumlin, who first stood out to her in the democratic primary debates.

(Beers) "I’ve only seen a few debates between him and Dubie, but for some reason I just felt he was so knowledgeable, was right there with answers, and not fumbling so much. He seems to have more of a grasp of everything in general- More so than Dubie, who sometimes doesn’t really know…"

(McCrea) Trine Bech lives in Burlington but she works for a nonprofit in Franklin County.  She likes Shumlin, too. But for very specific reasons, including his position on Vermont Yankee.

(Bech) "I think the power plant is a huge issue – it’s not safe. And the state economy – how are we going to support our services that help poor people and still not go in the red."

(McCrea) Many in St. Albans talk about the need to control government spending.

Money and budgets are a concern for Ashley Yandow, too, but on a personal level. She’s a single mother who was laid off last month from her job as a hair stylist. As she sits on a park bench waiting for a ride, Yandow describes her financial situation.

(Yandow) "Not very good. Not being able to afford groceries to feed my son, and he’s top priority – you know, it’s okay if I don’t eat but, he’s definitely going to have to eat, and just affording small stuff – diapers, all that stuff, it’s really hard, when there’s so many bills."

(McCrea) Yandow says she doesn’t have cable TV, so she hasn’t been able to see the candidates or hear their campaign agendas. But she says she’ll vote based on the issues, not the political party.

(McCrea) Voting the person over the party is a common theme here. At the Handy auto dealership, owner David Handy describes himself as ‘mostly a democrat’, but…

(Handy) "I think around here, people really vote for the guy. Whoever the candidate is, and if you connect with him – that’s what happens."

(McCrea) Handy says he’s a strong supporter of Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch. But for governor he’s voting for Dubie.

(Handy) "I think he’s really a good decent guy and I’ve know him pretty well… and I really think there needs to be a balance in state government and that is an overriding thing for me – when all 3 branches are all controlled by the same party you get too much."

(McCrea) Marty Manahan is Sales Manager at the dealership. He’s also the mayor of St. Albans. He says that while the town has traditionally leaned democratic, these days voting is much more of a ‘mixed bag’. And while there’s no predicting the outcome of the governor’s race, he is certain of one thing this election season:

(Manahan) "I think people are ready for it to be over. With the democratic primary – had a lot of campaigning there, and then you went right into the governor’s race, so the message I’m getting is ‘yeah, it’s time to end’."

(McCrea) And with just days to go before the election, voters can at least take solace that the end is in sight.

For VPR news, I’m Lynne McCrea.


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