Locals express variety of late night election views

A fist goes up from a supporter of President Bush as patrons at Lear's Pub watch election returns Tuesday night. Crowds at local watering holes and at house parties were generally subdued as the numbers slowly trickled in through the evening and no definite winner was pronounced by midnight.

Late night reactions to Tuesday's election results varied greatly for those interviewed about the presidential race, the one man/one woman marriage state measure and the city of Joseph recall of councilor Jennifer Ballard.

Die-hard democrats were interviewed late in the evening at the Best Western Motel where spirits were dampened by the likelihood of John Kerry not beating George Bush for president. Other people were interviewed over the telephone or spoken to in local taverns, expressing a myriad of views.

"This is closer to a wake than a party," said Wallowa's Ann Farmer after most of the 70 or 80 hopeful Democrats had already filed out of the Best Western late in the evening.

Speaking from Lear's Pub and Grill in downtown Enterprise, Sandra Kessler had a different take on the presidential election. "I'm happy that Bush is winning," she said. "I think he is a man of honor and he has done the best he can with the information and tools he has at his disposal."

Leaving the Democratic gathering was a dejected Rich Wandschneider of Enterprise who said, "We still have a civil war in Iraq and a health care mess. I think that Karl Rove (Bush's campaign aide) is the most brilliant campaign strategist in the country."

Spoken to over the telephone was Ena May Dempsey of Wallowa, who mounted an unsuccessful write-in campaign to win a seat on the Wallowa city council. "I'm a Bush supporter," she said. "I am more worried about Bush being president than me being back on the council."

From his seat at Lear's Chris Poland of Enterprise said, "I voted for the lesser of two evils. I voted for Kerry." He said he had been a Bush supporter until the past month when he reassessed Bush's performance as president and changed his vote.

"It defies logic, but it looks like Bush is winning," mourned Dennis Ducey of rural Joseph, one of the remaining few at the Democratic gathering. He also decried state approval of Measure 37, which would require compensation of land value lost to land use laws. "That's insane. Basically that means there will be no zoning," he said.

Democrat Mike Farmer of Wallowa thought the presidential race came squarely to a vote of the people, but had special concerns about the one man/one woman marriage state measure, Measure 36, which the state of Oregon passed. He viewed the new amendment as discrimination against one segment of the population.

"No matter what happens we are still one country and we need to work together to make it a better one," said Catherine Mattias of Joseph, who unsuccessfully ran for a Joseph Coucil seat.

Unsuccessful Joseph mayoral candidate Dennis Sands had some sympathy to spare for Councilor Jennifer Ballard, who was recalled by a wide margin. "I think the whole thing was overblown," he said. "She always does her homework, and no one does it better. It's all politics, but compared to some cities I've seen, Joseph is pretty tame."

"I think it will be a positive step forward to get a council that can finally work together," said Joseph mayor-elect Peggy Kite Martin about the recall results. She said that while she "celebrates dissenting views," she also feels "there is a line between expressing views while being part of a process, and aggressively pursuing your own personal agenda."

Outgoing Joseph mayor Kevin Warnock said of the recall election, "I believe the people of Joseph have given an informed opinion and that's about all I need to say. The public has spoken."

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