Colonial Heights voters not deterred by lines
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Nov 7, 2012, 13:09
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Rep. Randy Forbes stopped at Tussing Elementary in Colonial Heights to talk to and shake hands with residents before they cast their votes.
Lengthy lines at some polling locations didn’t keep 70 percent of registered voters in Colonial Heights from casting their ballots at the polls on Tuesday. Although the turnout was slightly lower than it was in 2008, which seems to be the case nationwide, the scene was still lively.
“It’s our second time coming,” said Kevin Turner as he stood outside the Colonial Heights Technical Center.
“We were out here this morning,” he said, pointing at the sidewalk outside the building, “We had to go to work.”
He came back in the evening and waited over an hour to cast his ballot. He said it was important to get his vote in, even if it meant long wait times.
The polls at Tussing Elementary had a few prominent visitors in the morning, as Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-4th, who won his bid for a seventh term, greeted voters and shook hands outside.
Forbes said he was halfway through a whirlwind day that began at 5 a.m. with an appearance on CNN. He said he would spend the rest of the day touring the district before concluding in his home city of Chesapeake.
“We’ve seen a passion throughout the last several months that I’ve never seen in my career, with people energized and excited,” he said. “I don’t know whether this is all across the state or all across the country, but it’s certainly been across the district, so I think we’re going to have some huge turnouts today.”
Even though most people have already made up their minds about how they intend to vote by the time they arrive at the polling location, Forbes said it was still important to visit.
“...We want to make sure that they know that we never forget who we represent and who put us in there,” he said.
Forbes was joined by state Sen. Steve Martin, R-11th, who represents Colonial Heights in the General Assembly.
“It’s in my district and it’s one of our most important precincts in the district,” he said explaining why he was at Tussing Elementary. “...We’re expecting very high turnout and it’s critically important that we win this election.”
The Republican Party did win in Colonial Heights, with former Gov. George Allen, Forbes and presidential candidate Mitt Romney all winning their races by hefty margins in the city. Allen and Romney were defeated in the state and nationwide elections.
Colonial Heights voters were also deciding from a crowded field of local representatives, with six people competing for four at large seats on Colonial Heights City Council.
“There’s still six very good people there to pick from, so it’s anybody’s race,” said Joe Green, Jr., who would win re-election to the council. “It’s been stressful.”
Kenny Frenier, who was also re-elected, said the local race had been conducted in good form.
“There hasn’t been any mudslinging or anything like that,” he said. “...We want to serve the citizens and we just have to wait for the results to come in.”
At the end of the night, Greg Kochuba, who was defeated in 2008 after serving one term on council, emerged as the non-incumbent winner. He will be joining Green, Frenier, Diane Yates, who was also successful in her bid for re-election, Scott Davis, John Wood and Milton Freeland Jr., on council.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Greg Kochuba, who won a spot on city council after being defeated in 2008, had some very famous supporters.
Although Tussing had seen heavy turnout in the morning, lines were short in the evening, providing a break for poll workers.
“Since the minute we opened, we’ve had people waiting,” said Robert Conklin, assistant chief election officer, as he stood in the library at Tussing.
He said wait times varied from 15 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes throughout the day.
“I’m glad it’s over,” said Cynthia Haynie as she emerged from casting her vote. “I think it’s terrible the amount of money that they’ve spent slinging mud at each other. I wish there was a way that we could make a constitutional amendment that says you can’t spend money doing that.”
She said the spending on negative messages particularly bothered her in light of Hurricane Sandy, which has lead to expensive recovery efforts.
As the owner of Appomattox Tile Art in Petersburg, Haynie said she considered issues related to small business in making her decision.
She consulted the website Politico to check facts while weighing her choice, because she found it difficult to determine which campaign statements were true.
Even though she chose one presidential candidate over the other, she said she respected both men.
“...They’re both great people,” she said. “They wouldn’t be where they were if they weren’t great people.”