An energy was in the air around polling locations Tuesday.
The chance to vote for president only comes around once every four years. Voters, excited about the opportunity to play a role in government, went to the polls en masse. Most locals planned on voting for challenger Mitt Romney, and almost all listed the economy and job creation as the most important issues facing America.“I’m thinking of American jobs,” said Kenny Lindsey of Decatur, as he exited the polling location off State Street on a cool morning. “Jobs are really important, and I don’t think the Obama administration has done much for that.”
Meanwhile, at the Decatur Civic Center, voters echoed the same sentiment.
“I’m trying to vote out the guy who’s in there,” Steve Eichthaler said. “The economy has got to get better. We’ve seen what happens when Obama runs the show. Let’s see what Romney can do. We know Romney has succeeded in the business world.”
Eichthaler, a welder, was out voting with his son who works with him. He said the economy over the past several years has affected his job.
“Everything costs us more now,” he added. “The cost of fuel, the cost of equipment – it’s hard for us to pass that extra cost on to our customers who are already having trouble paying for everything else in their lives.”
Fittingly, living above the Barnett Shale, in a county that has led the area in drilling rigs for almost a year, concerns about the future of the oil and gas industry were also on voters’ minds.
“I don’t like how the last four years have been going,” said Ruben Cantu. “I don’t think there is a perfect candidate, but I voted for Mitt. Being here in the Barnett Shale, I know if we open up more drilling it can create more jobs for people here.”
Like many Wise County residents, Michael D. Fogle of Decatur works in the oil field. He’s been in the industry almost six years, and his livelihood had a lot to do with way he voted Tuesday.
“I’m voting all Republican,” he said. “Four years is a lot of time – there are a lot of things that could’ve been done.”
Fogle also said the president’s refusal early this year to approve a permit for an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast influenced his vote.
“When he shut down the pipeline, that cut out a lot of jobs,” Fogle said.
Last January, President Barack Obama rejected giving TransCanada, the company behind building the 2,000-mile pipeline from Canada to Houston called Keystone XL, a permit to begin construction. But three months later Obama visited Cushing, Okla., and said the Gulf Coast portion of the pipeline was a priority for his administration. Construction and preparation has already begun. Bulldozers have started clearing a 50-foot swath through East Texas for the coming pipeline that will connect Canadian crude to Houston refineries.
Obama supporters at local polls had concerns besides the economy.
“I’m voting for Obama because I love his peace and his calm,” said Eve Davis of Decatur. “I love how he wants to help everybody. That’s me. And that’s what I love.”
Veteran David Limme said he supported Obama because of his efforts to end the war in Iraq.
“He started under the gun,” Limme said. “He was in the middle of two wars and the mortgage crisis. He’s done what other presidents haven’t been willing or able to do – create a health care plan.
“And he’s bringing our troops home. That’s important to me because I was in the Air Force for six years and served in Vietnam.”
After the polling locations grow dark and the numbers are tabulated around the county, state and nation, voters can rest a little easier knowing they executed their right to vote – whether their favorite candidate wins, or not.