A month before vote, 'eclectic' county deliberates

By Helen O'neill

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 7 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Lindsay Nemec and her husband Eric, who were picking pumpkins with their 7-year-old son, Samuel, also steer clear of political talk at home.

Job security is their biggest concern, but they are divided over which candidate might be best. Nemec, of Abington, is a 35-year-old school counselor who works in Philadelphia and is worried about proposals to close or privatize dozens of schools.

"I don't want to be one of the millions of Americans who is unemployed," said Nemec, who will vote for Obama.

Her husband, who works in a Philadelphia car repair shop, said he doesn't trust politicians in general and is "firmly undecided" on his presidential pick.

He likes Romney because he seems like a "good family man" and, though he voted for Obama in 2008, he doesn't feel the president has accomplished enough. He also dislikes the health care reform, saying government shouldn't force people to buy insurance. But he believes the election is really about who can fix the economy and help the middle class. He plans to make a final decision after watching the rest of the debates.

The economy and its effect on the middle class was a constant refrain, even for those who are financially sound.

Packing up his saxophone after a morning session at the Doylestown market, Mike Siefried said the current situation reminded him of the "robber baron days of the 19th century," when a powerful elite controlled industry and politics.

A registered Democrat who used to be a Republican, the 66-year-old retired marketing executive from Doylestown will vote for Obama, because he is fearful of the Republican agenda.

He compared the economy to a house that needs fixing up.

"Republicans want to slap a coat of paint on it and make it look good," he said. "Democrats want to look at the foundation and see what it takes to make it last."

Fellow musician Rick Renz, who plays drums in their "Jazz with Friends" band, was far more skeptical about the ability of any one leader to enact real change, particularly given the congressional gridlock in Washington.

Renz, a 58-year old sales manager, said he had never felt so disheartened about his country. His two older children, ages 33 and 27, both with masters degrees, have had to move back home because they can't find jobs. And he has witnessed friends lose jobs or have their homes foreclosed on.

"I never thought I would see that in my lifetime," Renz said. "Everyone says the job numbers are good. But my two adult kids are sitting at home."

Renz says he will vote for Romney, mainly because of his disgust at how the last four years have gone.

Others said it was unfair to pin all the blame on Obama.

"I view the obstruction of Congress as treason, because it has brought the whole country down," said Ed Valenti, as he strolled down Newtown's main street, his snow white parrot, Puff Daddy, perched on his shoulder. While kids snapped photos and "Puffy" enchanted onlookers with coy calls of "hello," Valenti, a 53-year-old social worker, talked about his concerns for his clients, many with mental health and substance abuse problems. A former Republican, Valenti said he has been disillusioned by how far to the right the party has moved. And he is afraid of more cuts to social programs for the poor if Romney is elected.

Still, while Valenti will vote for Obama, he doesn't envision any real change for the country without more bipartisan efforts in Washington.

"The problems the country is facing are beyond one man," he said.