Voters plea for an end to political hostility

  • Art Flecker of Bow is dressed in red, white and blue as he stands outside the polling place at the Bow Community Center on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Arty Flecker of Bow dressed up in red, white and blue as he stands to vote at the Bow Community Center on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. GEOFF FORESTER

  • Linda Day gives her thoughts after voting at the Immaculate Conception Church parish hall in Penacook on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Gordon Davis, 71, gives his thoughts about voting after casting his vote at the Immaculate Conception Church parish hall in Penacook on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. It is his first time voting in New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 11/8/2022 7:38:20 PM

When Edward Steenbeke first voted as a young man nearly 60 years ago, he was confident in the political direction of the country and its politicians.

On Tuesday, the Concord resident – along with many other Republican and Democrats – expressed their desire for elected officials to get back to solving the issues that people care about rather than constantly fighting against each other.

“Politicians need to worry about the people, not each other,” Steenbeke said. “I want democracy to go back to being for the people.”

Fellow Concord resident, Nicholas Millianes, 67, who is eight years younger than Steenbeke, agreed.

“This is not the America that I grew up with, this is not what I envisioned when I was younger,” Millianes said.

In Bow, Art Flecker, 44, stood out from the crowd wearing an American flag-patterned outfit with the phrase “Lions Not Sheep” emblazoned on it. He said it meant, “be the change you want to see.”

“I’m here to bring attention to the need to be out here,” Flecker said. “No matter what side you’re on, that’s how we work together as a country.”

Outside the polling place, Flecker was urging voters to choose Republican candidates.

Voters throughout the Concord area cited inflation, electricity prices, education and abortion rights as issues that were most important to them.

In Boscawen, 23-year-old Virginia Butt was motivated by abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“I think it’s unfair having politicans deciding what people can do with their bodies,” she said. “I don’t think they should be making life-altering decisions for people they don’t know.”

Concord resident Linda Day felt similarly.

“I don’t think it’s anybody’s business but the woman involved and I feel bashful about excluding the husband, but that’s not the way babies are grown,” said Day, 72. “They need to support their women.”

First-time voter Jace Merill, 18, of Ward 2 in Concord said he wanted to take part in democracy for the first time, support abortion rights and urged young people to use their voice.

“It’s important for young people to vote because we’re living in a world created by these votes,” Merill said. “Step up and shape the future that you want.”

Though many are hopeful the midterm elections will force change among politicians, Cassius Parker, 24, of Ward 5, doesn’t agree.

“I don’t think this election will change anything,” Parker said. “There are too many voters that wish it would change but don’t think going to the polls is effective.”

He supported exclusively Democrats.

“The goal in voting is to stop the party that is going to take away voting rights and abortion rights,” Parker said.

Nancy Gilman sees it differently.

“I want to see the country return to some of Trump’s old policies,” said Gilman, 64. “We need to go back to oil drilling in the U.S. instead of internationally and handle immigrants better.”

More than any one issue, voters in Concord like Gilman said they wanted to see the parties come together and create policies that work for people in the city, state and throughout the country.

“The decisions made today could decide who is in power in [Washington] D.C., what policies will be stalled and what policies will come out in the next two years,” said Erica Ungarelli, 52. “There could be a negative outcome and that’s why it’s so important to vote.”

Ray Coty, a 73-year-old independent and combat veteran, wants this election to usher in a transformation that will allow people to once again interact with one another.

“I want everyone to be unified again,” said Coty. “I want to be able to talk to one another.”

Reporter David Brooks contributed to this report.

Jamie Costa

Jamie Costa joined the Monitor in September 2022 as the city reporter covering all things Concord, from crime and law enforcement to City Council and county budgeting. She graduated from Roger Williams University (RWU) in 2018 with a dual degree in journalism and Spanish. While at RWU, Costa covered the 2016 presidential election and studied abroad in both Chile and the Dominican Republic where she reported on social justice and reported on local campus news for the university newspaper, The Hawks' Herald. Her work has also appeared in The *Enterprise *papers and the *Cortland Standard *and surrounding Central New York publications. Costa was born and raised on Cape Cod and has a love for all things outdoors, especially with her dog.

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan covers environmental and energy stories in Bow, Hopkinton, Dunbarton and Warner for the Concord Monitor. In 2022, she graduated from Northwestern University with a master's degree in journalism, specializing in investigative reporting. She also has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering and is always looking for new ways to incorporate data and visual elements into her stories. Her work has appeared in Energy News Network, Prism Reports and Crain's Chicago Business.

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