Fulton County

Voter Voices: Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties

Elaine Gasner (left) and Linda Swietlicki of the Perth Volunteer Ladies Auxilary offer several tables of take home sweets Tuesday afternoon inside the Perth Municipal Complex and District 1 and 2 voting precinct on election day. Nov. 3, 2020. (STAN HUDY/STAFF WRITER)

Elaine Gasner (left) and Linda Swietlicki of the Perth Volunteer Ladies Auxilary offer several tables of take home sweets Tuesday afternoon inside the Perth Municipal Complex and District 1 and 2 voting precinct on election day. Nov. 3, 2020. (STAN HUDY/STAFF WRITER)

Voters varied in their views Tuesday in Montgomery, Fulton and Schoharie counties where many residents voted in person rather than opting for the early or absentee options used widely this election cycle.

At the Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department in the Town of Amsterdam, Kathy and Katrina Spagnola made it a family outing.

“My grandmother, she gave me good reasons why I should vote,” said 20-year-old Katrina.

Her grandmother was beaming as the morning sun shined on the pair outside the fire house.

“I want her to grow up in a good nation, a morally correct nation,” said the 64-year-old grandmother.  “It’s very important that each and every one of us does her job to make sure that happens.”

Husband and wife Steve and Claudia Miller arrived at the firehouse with their daughter, Jennifer.

“I figured the lines wouldn’t be as long and I was right,” said Steve, 58 of Amsterdam. “I voted for [former vice president Joe] Biden because the other guy is an idiot.”

Victoria Slawienski, 72, of Amsterdam voted for President Donald Trump based on the two candidate’s running mates.

“I know Biden and stuff like that, he’s a good guy,” Slawienski said. “I don’t think he’s going to serve the full presidency and I’m not comfortable with Kamala Harris.

“If something happens to Trump, I’m more comfortable with Pence. I think that was important this year.”

In Fulton County, Dolores Tesiero, 68, of Perth took the vice-presidential candidate’s qualifications into consideration when she voted at the Perth Municipal Complex.

“I voted for Biden because I like [Sen. Kamala] Harris,” Tesiero said. ““I watched the debate with Harris and she’s an intelligent woman and a woman needs to be in that is intelligent.”

Tuesday brought Tesiero to the polls for the local town justice race also.

“Lisa Wallace, she does good work for the Perth Youth Commission,” she said. “My children, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren have gone to the Perth Youth Commission for years and Lisa does a great job. I think she’ll be a great town justice.”

Edwin Leonard, 81, of Perth said he is a conservative, but has voted on other party lines in the past.

He filled out his conservative line completely Tuesday afternoon.

“I think he’s done a lot for our country and our servicemen deserve it and I stand behind him,” Leonard said of the current President. “He’s not probably the most finessed in his dealings, but I think that he’s honest and fair.

“He takes the American as somebody that he really cares for.”


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He was offered the opportunity to vote by absentee, but declined.  “I’m still able to get out and take care of my privilege of being an American citizen and voting,” Leonard said.

Bryon Seyfried, 57, of Perth hopes to get the last laugh when the final presidential tallies are complete.

“I voted for him in 2016,” he said of his Trump choice. “I wanted a change, something different.

“I got laughed at when he came down the stairs and announced. A lot of my conservative friends were laughing about it. He did win in 2016 and I hope he wins in 2020.”

Seyfried also voted for Elise Stefanik in the 21st congressional district race.

“I want to keep Elise Stefanik in and that was the only real local [race] around here that I was really watching,” he said.

Another Perth resident, Mary Gage, 65, was adamant in her hopes for electing former vice president Joe Biden as the next president…in just a few words.

“I do not like Trump,” she said. “I think he’s a . . . I won’t say the words.”

Louis Galasso missed out on early voting in Schoharie County, but Tuesday allowed him to bring 6-year old Adelyn Pierce to make several trips to polling precincts.

“She actually got lucky and got to come twice today, once with me and once with her mom.”

Adelyn provided advice to Galasso at the voting table in the Cobleskill Firehouse on Main Street Tuesday.

“She was kind of filling me in on how her mom voted,” Galasso said. “We didn’t exactly vote the same, but that’s O.K. That’s what makes this country great is that we all get our own opinion, and we all get to exercise that right in our own way.”

He also was teaching her about various options on the presidential ballot.

“I voted with my conscience and that led me to not vote for any of the major party candidates,” he said.

First-time voter Madison Ross, 20, based her vote on her own life experiences in two different states on Tuesday.

“Being on a college campus and being surrounded by everything going on right now it was important to me with everything that has been brought to my attention, especially growing up in a very conservative town [Cobleskill] and then going to a very liberal college [Springfield College],” she said. “I kind of got the extremes of both sides and had to educate myself to where I fell, plus our world is kind of on fire right now, so I think that’s why I decided to make sure I got out and voted today.”

Her decision was to vote for Biden.

“As a woman I think the biggest thing that really bothered me recently was the supreme court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett,” Ross said. “I think that was finally my last straw of electing somebody who had alright said she cannot separate religion from the state.“That is probably the main reason recently that I got here to vote for Biden.”Outside the Century Club polling place Tuesday mother and daughter Irene Nieves and Sarah Ortiz, who both work in health insurance, said they voted for the entire Democratic ticket Tuesday.Nieves said she feels President Donald Trump’s administration has encouraged racial prejudice.

“It’s time to get Trump out,” she said. “Being a Hispanic female, since Trump has come into the presidency I don’t feel as safe as I used to with the way, a lot of individuals have seemed to feel free to express their prejudices. It’s very unsettling, and the freedom that they feel they have to speak to individuals. It’s just shocking. It’s just very, very bad that we’ve come to this. Businesses are boarded up, the White House is boarded up with barricades — all of that just speaks volumes. We’ve never had to be concerned about our safety. No one should ever be concerned about their safety. It’s just getting out of hand, and it’s time to get him out.”

Ortiz said she feels Trump has shown poor leadership when confronted with the crisis of the pandemic and unjust police killings of black people.

“I think that during the coronavirus, and the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump hasn’t really put forth the effort in taking the coronavirus seriously,” she said “He made the virus very minuscule, and put forward the idea that it wasn’t something to be worried about, and that masks shouldn’t be mandatory.”

Nieves said Trump has set a bad example for Americans. “His advocacy has encouraged others to feel the same way as him, going around thinking you don’t need a mask and ‘F-the-governor and what he says’ — and this is our lives we’re talking about,” she said.

Amsterdam resident Patti Braner, a retired doctor’s office worker, said she voted for President Trump and for congressional candidate Liz Joy.

“I don’t believe anything Biden has to say, and I think they’re just using him to get into power, and I don’t believe he’ll be president for very long,” she said. “He twice misspoke and insinuated that it was George W. Bush he was running against. Why did he hibernate for so long?”

Braner said she’d never vote for incumbent congressman Paul Tonko. “I like that she believes in life, not abortion, and I’m at a loss for the other things right now, but I met her a long time ago at a dinner, and we talked and I was just impressed with her,” Braner said.

Amsterdam Maria Tirado, retired from working for New York state higher education, said  she voted for Joe Biden because she wants a change.

“I really feel like Trump has separated our country, pitting Blacks against whites,” she said. “All of the big people and the big companies have all the money, and the little companies are lost. That’s a separation right there.”

Tirado supported Tonko.

“I think he’s been a real good congressman for Amsterdam. He’s helped a lot on people keeping jobs here in Amsterdam,” she said.

In Johnstown, Johnstown resident Chris Orfan, who works for an international sausage company in Gloversville, said although he likes some of Trump’s policies, he voted for Biden instead.

“I really struggled with who I was going to vote for, mainly because I liked Trump’s economic policies a lot, but I’m just not comfortable with the idea of someone I don’t like as a person being president,” he said. “It really has challenged my beliefs. Just because somebody is good at doing something, maybe they still shouldn’t be the one doing it, because they’re not doing it for the right reasons. I’m not saying he’s doing it for the wrong reasons — I don’t know — but my gut doesn’t tell me I should vote for him.”

Heather Smith, who works in the IT department for Lexington Center, said she reluctantly voted for President Trump.

“I really had a hard time checking that box,” she said. “This is the worst election I’ve ever voted in. I actually voted for Trump. Generally, I don’t vote for one side or party, just because they all suck, to be honest, but I’m torn this year.”

Smith said she favors some of Biden’s policies over Trump’s, but not when it comes to the possibility Biden might favor adding more seats to the supreme court.

“I can’t vote for that,” she said. “That’s a big thing. I’m not in favor of adding more seats ‘just because.'”

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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