Franklin, Southampton residents flock to polls

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Voters in Southampton County heading to the polls on Tuesday understood the importance of this year’s Midterm Elections, not only locally, but for the country as a whole. At several polling locations within the county and city, area residents were excited to have their say, whether it was to retain or place new leaders in office.

Florence Reynolds was campaigning for Mark Warner in Ivor. Here she talks to the Rev. Rander T. Haywood Jr. about the election. -- CAIN MADDEN | THE TIDEWATER NEWS

Florence Reynolds was campaigning for Mark Warner in Ivor. Here she talks to the Rev. Rander T. Haywood Jr. about the election. — CAIN MADDEN | THE TIDEWATER NEWS

Topping the ballot was the United States Senate race between Democratic Senator Mark Warner and his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie. Both candidates have plenty of support throughout Western Tidewater, although the majority of voters The Tidewater News came across pledged their support for Warner.

According to the Center for American Progress, Southampton County ranked in the top 10 percent of counties in Virginia that were analyzed for voter registration and turnout. In fact, everyone interviewed was quick to say that they felt it was their civic duty to vote and that that they have done so every year that they have qualified.

Clyde Johnson of Franklin said he feels it’s his obligation and responsibility to the country to spend the first Tuesday of every November at the polls.

“It’s very important to place the right people in office because we cannot afford to have people who won’t support the president simply because of their political party,” said Johnson. “There are bigger issues facing the nation.”

Johnson went on to mention some of those issues, including foreign policy and ISIS, but again noted that he truly just wants the candidate who will fully support the president.

Ralph Taylore, another Franklin resident, feels that a lot needs to happen in order for things to turn around.

“We may need more than just a single new person in office to change things in the area,” said Taylore. “Getting it right today will be a step in the right direction, though.”

Meanwhile, Graham Pulley said he hoped to see Republicans take control of the senate.

“I hope it will be a good one,” Pulley said of the election. “I also hope that we have a lot of folks turn out.”

Hampton resident Kim Artis said that future elections are just as important as this one. Artis, who was in the area to help her father, James T. Artis, vote at the Sedley Fire Station, brought her 13-year-old daughter along for the ride because she wants to show her children the significance of voting.

“If she sees her parents and grandparents voting, she’s going to see that it has meaning, and when she’s old enough to vote, then she’ll make the right choice,” said Artis, as her daughter looked on from the truck.

Encouraging others to vote seemed to be a common theme across the county, and that’s exactly what Florence and Clifton Reynolds, Juanita Alaine, Jenny Wells and Booker Patterson were doing in Ivor. Campaigning for Mark Warner, Florence made it a point to say that she knows each vote makes a difference.

“Voting is Democracy,” she said. “So many people see the negativity on commercials and they decide they don’t want to vote.”

Because many political ads seem to border on slandering the opposition, Florence said that’s why she wants to help Warner fight to keep his seat.

“He’s a people person who cares for the little guy,” she said.

Kathy Steelman, in Ivor, was hoping to see some different faces in Washington after this election season.

“The way things are going, I’m hoping for some change,” she said, adding that regardless of the outcome, voting is important. “It is the one voice that we have, especially as a woman. We haven’t always had the right to vote.

“Besides, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”