Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 3, 2010

Voters: Economy was key


TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan's weak economy propelled local voters to the polls, and they decided a bevy of local ballot issues.

"As a state we're doing poorly, and it doesn't matter what the party affiliation is; we've done poorly," said Fred Cook of Traverse City. "So, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do: I'm voting."

The governor's race between Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero attracted attention from local voters such as Christine Walter of Elmwood Township in Leelanau County.

"Currently we have a Democrat (governor) who I want out of office very badly," Walter said.

But many expressed frustration over mudslinging commercials. Walter found it hard to sort through the allegations found in ads.

"So many of them do these smear campaigns," Walter said. "It's hard to keep track of all the (stuff)."

Kids with hockey gear spilled out of the Grand Traverse County Civic Center during the last few hours of voting Tuesday, as a sunny autumn afternoon turned brisk. The scene was familiar, as a few locals greeted one another as they arrived at the polls by bike and car, in couples and with children.

"I just got back in. It was very busy and very exciting," said Traverse City Clerk Debbra Curtiss, about two hours after polls closed Tuesday on a "good turnout" for a gubernatorial election.

Jan Watters, of Benzie County's Almira Township, voted a straight Republican ticket.

She said the economy is the most pressing issue, and the downturn has been widespread enough that "we all have people we know who are suffering." She likes that Snyder has business experience.

"I just think he can do it. I'm really hoping," Watters said. "Not everybody's going to like it, and that's OK."

On the other political side is Merri Lee Stetson, who cast her ballot at the Civic Center. A regular voter, Stetson was motivated to go to the polls to support Democrats. She voted a straight ticket for the Democractic Party.

Others found themselves supporting candidates on both sides of the aisle.

"I didn't vote a straight ticket. I voted for candidates," said Kate Bowers, of Leelanau County. "I'm just looking for some honesty."

Several voters said they weren't motivated by a particular race or issue, but by civic duty.

"It's important to participate in the political process and it's always important to vote," said Pete Kendra of Traverse City. "I try to convey that to people I work with and my kids who live downstate."

Record-Eagle reporters Brian McGillivary, Lindsay VanHulle and Bill O'Brien contributed to this report.