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Pittsburg: Change and Trump

  • A large Trump sign stands by the side of the road in Stewartstown.

  • A large Trump sign stands next to a selling holiday wreaths on in Stewartstown. Wreath maker Wanda Brown says she’ll eventually paint over the Trump sign and turn it into a hand made “wreaths for sale” sign.

  • Wanda Brown of Stewartstown clips pine branches to turn into holiday wreaths in her garage. Brown voted for Trump, though she said she didn’t like either presidential nominee.

  • Pittsburg resident Ed Spirdione sits at the Buck Rub Pub on Friday afternoon. Spirdione is a fervent Trump supporter. “Ecstatic,” he said when asked how Trump’s win made him feel. “I was surprised but not shocked.”

Monitor staff
Published: 11/13/2016 12:01:56 AM

The day before the election, Pittsburg resident Rick Dube noticed a lone Hillary Clinton sign on the side of the road.

Dube, a county corrections officer and part-time police officer, drove back and placed eight Donald Trump signs around it. He posted the photo on Facebook, with the caption, “What we do with criminals, surround them.”

Unlike much of the country, Dube didn’t stay up to watch the election returns Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Nervous that Clinton would be declared the winner, he was surprised when he awoke to the news that Trump had been declared president-elect.

“I’m always a proud American,” Dube said. “I was prouder to be American that day.”

Driving up to New Hampshire’s northernmost towns, only the pro-Trump road signs outnumber the anti-Northern Pass ones.

In the past two presidential elections, Coos County voted solidly Democrat. But with manufacturing jobs nearly gone, health costs rising and few young people staying in the mountain towns, many residents were fed up with the status quo. Wanting change, they decided Trump was their man in 2016.

In tiny Pittsburg – New Hampshire’s last outpost before Canada – 73 percent of town residents voted for Trump, a result Republicans hadn’t seen since the 2004 elections. Many towns around it had similar margins.

As the wind howled and spit snow on Friday, a wood stove kept Wanda Brown and Donald Knapp warm inside Brown’s Stewartstown garage. The cousins drank Canadian Club and Pepsi out of red Solo cups as Brown clipped sprigs of pine for Christmas wreaths she was making.

Brown voted for Trump, even though she disliked some of the things he said during the campaign. For her, Trump was better than the alternative.

“If you didn’t want her, you had no choice,” she said, adding that she hopes Trump will run the government more like a business.

Knapp, of Colebrook, didn’t like either Trump or Clinton, so he wrote in Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The cousins are adamant things need to change in Washington – change they hope Trump will bring.

“We need to clean up in Washington because all of these politicians are getting so damn comfortable,” Knapp said. “We’ve got to get new blood down there.”

Brown, Knapp and Dube all say they’re sick of seeing their taxes and health insurance costs rise every year. With jobs in the North Country disappearing, they feel more and more of their money is going toward welfare for others.

“The middle class is the one that pays for everything, and we’re sick of it,” Brown said. “They don’t give us free insurance, nothing’s free. I think there’s too much welfare and that’s because there’s no jobs.”

The median household income in Pittsburg is $38,000 per year, with 16.2 percent of the population college educated. In Stewartstown, those numbers are even lower.

Local residents have watched local factories, like Ethan Allen Furniture, lay off hundreds and ship jobs overseas. The company’s nearby Beecher Falls, Vt., plant closed in 2009.

“When you heard ‘Ethan Allen,’ it was American made,” Dube said. “What did they do? They went to China.”

While the company still manufactures furniture elsewhere in the United States, they also make it in Mexico.

North Country residents say they want a president who will look out for American interests first.

“Let’s take care of America first,” Dube said. “I don’t believe in giving money to other countries when we’re hurting ourselves. They don’t help us.”

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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