Voters hit the polls to pick president




When it came to the presidential race, voters in Garden City either had very definite opinions about their chosen candidate or they were carefully weighing the pros and cons of each before voting in Tuesday's presidential election.

With 27 of 32 Finney County precincts reporting as of press time Tuesday night, local voters overwhelmingly picked Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama, 4,708 to 2,056, according to unofficial results from the Kansas Secretary of State's office. Nationally, however, Obama prevailed, securing four more years in the White House.

Thomas Makens voted Republican straight down the line, he said, but aside from his party affiliation, there were two main reasons he chose Romney over Obama.

"There's not a huge difference for me, but one thing that was big for me was the Canadian oil pipeline. I thought Obama should have voted for that, and another one is tax-funding abortions. I'm opposed to that," he said. "So those were two deciding issues."

Makens said that despite being a registered Republican, he thinks Obama has done a good job as president, in some respects.

"Overall, I'm not anti-Obama per se. I kind of like him, actually, in a lot of ways. He's been a pretty good spokesperson and that sort of thing for us," he said, adding that he thinks Obama is less likely to get the U.S. involved in overseas conflicts, such as those in Syria. "So that's kind of a worry for me going with the Republicans. Will they get us more involved, or will they keep us out? That's a worry."

Makens said, to him, Romney's strongest quality is his character.

"He's just a nice guy, very charitable guy and that's very rare with politicians because I think they tend to be kind of cheapskates in their personal lives," he said.

Louise Nichols voted for Obama for a basic reason.

"I like him, and I don't like Romney. I think he knows more about what's going on than Romney does," she said, adding that Obama needs four more years to get the job done.

Henry Gonzales said that his vote very much reflected his political leanings.

"I'm Hispanic, but I'm conservative. Ninety percent of what the Democrats believe in, I don't believe in. I believe in being self-reliant, independent," he said.

Gonzales said that aside from his political affiliation, the main reason he voted for Romney over Obama had to do with the national debt.

"Because we can't afford four more years of Obama. He's going to break us. Our children are going to be in debt forever if we don't do something about it. We can't keep spending the way we are," he said.

Michael Bowden's vote for Romney came down to the budget, as well.

"Mainly, I just didn't see a lot of promised change the last four years," Bowden said. "America needs somebody new, somebody — a big businessman that I think will know how to settle the budget. It just, to me, seems like Romney's successful in the business world whereas Obama, that's something he's never really touched. And a lot of people are mad that Romney (has) all these proposed cuts and stuff, areas he feels we don't need to be spending money, and I completely agree."

For Corey Linville, his vote for Romney is a reflection of his ideals.

"I'm a Republican, and I think he can do a much better job for the country than Obama has for the past four years," he said. "I think a lot of Obama's policies are leaning toward more socialist policies that I don't agree with. I like the conservative principles that Romney stands for."

Carole Geier, a registered Democrat who cast her vote a couple of weeks ago, voted to re-elect Obama.

"I think he's done an amazing (job) for our country. It was in trouble when Bush left office, and I think Obama has pulled us back from the abyss. So I have great confidence in him, and I wish the other party could be a little more magnanimous and try to reach out and do what's best for all of us Americans," Geier said, adding that she has a lot of faith in what Obama has done and what he has yet to do.

Sondra Kendall, election worker at the St. James Lutheran Church, where voters from wards 11 and 12 cast their ballots, said that there was a steady stream of voters. As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, over 470 voters from both wards combined had voted.

"We usually have a pretty good, steady crowd through here all day," Kendall said. "There's not a whole lot of lag time."

Most voters agreed on one thing: Those who didn't vote don't have the right to complain, after the fact.

Makens summed it up by saying, "I think it's important to vote just because it's a democracy, and if you don't vote, eventually you will lose your democracy."

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