Caring enough to vote

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Yesterday, the school board elections for the Niles Community District were held throughout the city and surrounding townships.
Before the final tally was taken, some voters were asked what issues brought them to the polls and influenced their choice of candidates. Election workers talked about their concerns as well.
Dissapointed that the number of voters was still fairly low by the end of the morning, Margarete Bruegmann, a worker at the Oak Manor polling location and a resident of Niles has been behind the voting registration table for a number of years. She said, "It's a shame more people don't care to come out and vote. There are grandparents that come in because they are concerned about their grandchildren," wondering why there weren't more parents voting yesterday.
Margarete's husband, Erich, said, "When I was in Germany, over 80 percent of the population voted. In some places the school board was appointed, not elected. Here we have a choice."
Lucy VandenHeede, a fellow election worker at Oak Manor, said, "Our complacency is terrible."
After voting at Oak Manor Elementary School in Precinct Seven, Lisa Smith thought about the reasons she chose a particular candidate and decided that children concerned her most. "I've been reading up on the candidates and looked at who would be better. The students were more important to me than other issues," she said. "I thought my candidate had the students' best interest at heart."
One issue bothered Smith, however. "I felt one candidate couldn't effectively represent the district if his children didn't attend the schools here. That would be like wanting to be the governor of Michigan when you don't want to live in that state," she said.
Jack True's voting issues were more concerned about the rise in the cost of living. "I'm concerned about raising taxes. I'm on a fixed income and have to spend money on prescriptions. I take five prescriptions at about a hundred dollars each per month. I only get $900 a month so there's no money left for anything," he said.
Ron Goodwin, who also cast his vote at the Oak Manor poll, said, "The two main issues were the school board candidate and the millage. I think I voted by name recognition and who would be good. I knew who I didn't want."
Barbara Evans, after voting at Oak Manor, said, "Voting is a privilege we have. We should exercise it. I chose my candidate because of his experience. Schools are more complex now. I know from past experience that my candidate will do well."
Barbara's husband, Bill Evans, agreed with his wife. "He has experience already and it will be a plus to have him there," he said.
Both Evans and his wife talked about the non-homestead proposal that was included in the vote this year. He said, "Most people see the word tax and dislike it. They don't want more taxes."
His wife said she felt she understood what the non-homestead tax meant. "I read about it in the paper," she said.
Like Oak Manor, the Niles High School polling place was a bit slow during the morning hours. Doris Kennedy, the chairperson and election inspector for the precinct, thought most people understood the tax issue. "We probably only had three questions about the non-homestead tax so far," she said.
As to the turnout, Kennedy said, "It has been very, very light. The weather has been in our favor. The voters are very congenial, but they are mostly older. I would think people who own more than one home here would be interested in voting, wouldn't you?"
Even though by 2:15 p.m. the tally of votes was only up to 49, Kennedy said she was grateful that Violet Webb and Laurel Lyn were there to help answer voters questions and keep things running smoothly.
Voting at the high school location, Betty and George Buysse said they both placed their votes in regard to the non-homestead tax, but Betty said she wasn't sure she understood exactly what it was. George, however, said he was familiar with it. "I was interested mainly in the agricultural part of it. I used to be a farmer. I'd like to see farmers get a break and be able to make money. The little guy doesn't have a chance," he said.
Betty was influenced in her decision about the candidates because of her own children. "I want to see that the kids have a good education. We have four wonderful boys," she said.
At the Eastside Elementary School poll, Mike and Michele Manis brought their two year old son, Tristan, along for the experience. Mike talked about the issue that concerned him most. "We shouldn't be building new facilities. We think the current buildings are fine if we just upgrade them," he said. But the deciding factor in choosing his candidate was privitization. "The other candidates want to privitize the school staff, the busdrivers, etc.," he said. "I'm against that."
His wife, Michele said, "We voted for the same reasons."