TALK: Hopatcong Makes its Vote Count
Patch talks to borough residents about their primary election decisions.
Updated 1:59 p.m.
Turns out, there actually are Gianni-Forbes signs. Saw several while driving down Lakeside Boulevard and Hopatchung Road. Added a picture of the dueling signs to the right.
Before departing the Hopatcong Senior Citizens Center, we spoke with Sue Pedersen, who has lived in Hopatcong for 30 years. Pedersen, a home health aid, said she was a Democrat and didn't recognize many of the names on the ballot aside from President Barack Obama.
Updated 1:18 p.m.
Turnout has slowed considerably, and not just because we're at the Hopatcong Senior Citizens Center. (It's just a joke, guys.) Probably because everybody was voting on their lunch breaks, which takes considerable determination. I put food only after breathing.
Looks like it's time for us to head to Hopatcong's Dunkin Donuts. Grab a sandwich. Get some work done.
But while we're there we'll try to speak with more borough residents about their thoughts regarding the 2012 primary. Feel free to swing by and say hello to Patch editor Brendan Kuty. He'll be the guy in the corner with the viking beard.
Updated 12:47 p.m.
Michael and Armando Ruiz arrived at the Hopatcong Senior Citizens Center toting tennis rackets. But the fun would have to wait until they cast their votes.
The pair registered as Republicans. But Michael Ruiz said he registered on the GOP side because "it seemed like there was more at stake." Each said they voted for Forbes and Gianni because they wanted change.
"I was just thinking as far as Hopatcong goes … every year I feel like it's only getting worse for our schools," said Michael Ruiz, a 21-year-old college student, with his father by his side. "Every year the [school] budget doesn't pass. My dad just told me today when we paid the water bill that it went up 25 percent in the last year. Something has got to change there, too."
What issues were most on your mind heading into the polls today? Tell us in the comments.
Updated 12:29 p.m.
Andrea McMahon stopped by the Senior Center just a bit ago with her daughter, Jennifer. Andrea McMahon, a 24-year Hopatcong resident, switched from Democrat to Republican when she moved to the borough, she said, so she could have a greater voice in elections.
So how did McMahon vote? She said she went with Galate and Forbes. "We need a change," the mother siad. "You've got to mix it up a little bit. Sometimes you've got to go with your gut. You can't quite explain it."
Her daughter, on the other hand, was disappointed that she didn't have a Democratic candidate on the municipal side. "I didn't have much of a choice," she said with a shrug.
Michele Guttenberger also made the trip to the Lakeside Boulevard staple to speak with Patch. She said she voted for Gianni and Forbes.
"We really need more objectivity and less being 'yes' people," Guttenberger said. "Actually, you need someone who is insightful and will stir up a little trouble. To question things."
Guttenberger, who staged a last-minute write-in campaign in November, said she didn't plan to do the same in 2012.
Non-political note: The Senior Center's picnic area is like Attack of the Ants this afternoon. You think you've killed enough of them and they just keep coming like, well, ants.
Updated 12:01 p.m.
Susan Slinger, whom we wrote about this morning, oddly enough, stopped by the Hopatcong Senior Citizens Center to cast her vote a little before noon Tuesday.
Slinger, a registered Democrat, said she was disappointed she didn't have a municipal option. A former middle school teacher who spends half the year in Boca Raton, Fla., Slinger said she felt a little out of place as one of the few Democrats in traditionally red Hopatcong.
"I'm sure I'm only one of the few," she said.
Slinger also said that due to her part-time residence, she wasn't particularly familiar with the names on the Republican ballot.
There are several cars in the Citizens Center parking lot. Several belong to poll workers, who have been here since the morning. One boasts several New York Giants decals. I'd like to talk to that guy.
UPDATED 11:43 a.m.
Before we start bothering residents, let's look at something that hasn't been there, if you catch my drift.
Unless you've been reading Patch or have kept up with the Herald's Hopatcong coverage, you probably wouldn't know the borough's council race was between four candidates for two spots.
Why? Because along Hopatcong's main roads sit only signs advertising the Bunce-Galate campaign. The sign says it was paid for by Republicans For Hopatcong 2012, whose treasurer is Ron Petillo, the husband of Mayor Sylvia Petillo.
Why didn't Forbes and Gianni get out there more? Team Bunce-Galate didn't exactly go stumping around the borough. But there might not have been a need. They're names are somewhat established as incumbents.
It'll be interesting to see if the website of Forbes and Gianni, which you could view here, gained enough traction among borough voters.
In other signage news, what about this Dr. Gary Wood guy? His red and white sign reads, "Ever wonder if Heaven is real? Come meet & greet someone who has been there!"
Updated 11:19 a.m.
The primary election polls opened Tuesday at 6 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m. While the race for Hopatcong's Republican nomination for a pair of expiring council seats could get interesting, many other state and county races will have voters making decisions that might affect their lives for a while.
Patch will head to several polling places throughout the day, hoping to speak with residents about their decisions. We'll be the mandatory 100 feet away from all polling entrances, so if you see someone yelling at you in the parking lot, it's just editor Brendan Kuty—though perhaps that won't comfort everyone.
And we'll be updating this post through the afternoon. So keep checking back for opinions from your neighbors.
Good luck voting!
Join the conversation: Did you vote? For whom did you vote and why? Tell us in the comments.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said the Richard Bunce and Marie Galate's signs were paid for by the Hopatcong Republican Club.