Voters in raincoats – including Queens students and neighborhood residents – hurried in and out of the polling station this morning at Myers Park Traditional Elementary School, eager to have their say in this year’s local midterm elections. Citing civic duty and concerns about equal rights and housing, voters said they wanted to make their voices heard.
“If you want to see change you have to vote,” said John, 42, a local Myers Park resident who declined to give his last name as he walked to his car. “I was very anxious to come out and support the affordable housing bonds.”
Despite the rain that was expected throughout the day, parents with children in tow and coffee in hand, mixed with students walking over before class, cast their votes in Myers Park’s voting Precinct 8, stopping in the light drizzle to discuss what brought them out to the polls today.
“I am voting to proactively have influence in the community,” said Craig Miller, 39, who arrived around 8:30 AM to cast his vote.
In 2016, voters here tended to vote slightly more Democratic than Republican, voting 49.89% for Hillary Clinton and 42.60% for Donald Trump, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
This year, two years into a Republican President’s four-year term, when opposing parties often try to gain ground in local and national elections, party politics were a factor cited by several voters. But so were issues of educational equity, justice, and housing. Midterm elections for this precinct include one seat for the United States House of Representatives, one North Carolina House seat and one North Carolina Senate seat, seven judgeships, one clerk seat, and a host of bonds and amendments.
“It is important to vote because there are a lot of things that are really wrong,’’ said Mason Cress, 26, who was at the polls this morning campaigning for Chad Stachowicz, a candidate for the North Carolina State Senate in District 39. “I’m voting against fascism and Republicans.”
Local resident, Terry Harris, said that he votes because he wants to see changes in local and national leadership. “I want to vote because I’m very concerned about the future of our country,” he said.
Still many voters today cited civic duty over party politics as the primary driver for going to vote.
“I vote because I have a voice and a right to be heard,” said one woman who walked quickly out of the voting station toward her car.
Another resident said that highlighting important issues was her focus this year.
“I typically vote Democrat, but it depends on the issue especially in this election,” said Shalpa, who declined her last name, as she exited the polls with her 2-year-old daughter.
City Councilman Larken Egleston, 36, said that he was at the polls today to encourage voters to vote for Dan McCready, a candidate for North Carolina’s 9th District in the United States House of Representatives. “Equal rights are important to me,’’ said Egleston. “And the opponent has not been open-minded to women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, or my rights. If ours and my generation vote, we can change the game.”
Several voters said today that they had criss-crossed party lines to support a variety of issues and candidates.
Lou Trosch, a district court judge who is running unopposed, said that he is non-partisan and was supporting candidates from both parties.
“I’m not on the blue team, I’m not on the red team, I’m on the black robe team,’’ he said, referring to the traditional party colors, with Red being Republican and Blue being Democrat.
(Before the 1996 presidential election, the traditional color-coding scheme was “Blue for Republican, Red for Democrat,” in line with European associations, where red is used for left-leaning parties, and blue for the right. The colors red and blue also are featured on the U.S. flag.)
Ashleigh Hill, a campaign worker for Sabrina Blain, a candidate for District Court Judge, said that her issue was fair treatment under the law. “The injustice has to end and there needs to be someone on the judge’s stand that wants to be there,’’ said Hill. “Time’s up for this behavior. I want to see more compassion.”
Voters were not the only ones eager to participate today. Campaign volunteers were out in force here and across the country.
Linda Sullivan, an Election Day volunteer, said that she was working a 13-hour shift here in Charlotte to support democracy. “I want to see a free country for my kids and grandkids,” she said.
Two UNCC students, who were manning an exit poll table at the Myers Park school, said that working the polls is a great education and a way to connect with their community.
“Local elections are more likely to affect you,” said Kaeli Kronk, an exit poll worker who was trying to get voters to answer a 12-question survey that gets sent to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections.
“Local politicians have an immediate effect,” her co-worker Daniel Yount added.
Rosa Ramirez, ’19, a Queens sophomore, said that she was taking the time to vote today to help her father, who is unable to vote this year, have a voice in this election.
Carl McPhail, another Myers Park resident, said that he was out to support a long-time public servant and friend, Andy Dulin, who is running for the North Carolina House of Representatives in southeast Charlotte’s District 104. “I’m just a neighborhood guy supporting a friend of mine, Andy Dulin,” said McPhail.
Precinct 8 is a portion of Myers Park neighborhood profile area 392, as defined by Mecklenburg County data. According to the county, this Myers Park neighborhood is 93 percent white, in comparison to 49 percent white for Mecklenburg County. Median income in this area is $137,000, compared to $59,000 for the county, and median age is 39, compared to 36 in the rest of the county.
The midterm elections are always crucial in determining the course of the government for the next two years, and Charlotte residents of all opinions and backgrounds were out today making sure their voice was going to be heard.
Reported on by Ariana Barnes, Ceara Leavai, Will Martin, Vlada Maznytska, Phelan Purnell, Naomi Tellez-Duran, Alli Vellucci, and Tyler Wise.