Tonawanda News — As the final hours before today’s election dwindled down on Monday, after months of campaigning and poll watching, candidates and volunteers made a final push to get their respective messages out.
President Barack Obama has etched up in state and national polls in recent weeks against his Republican opponent Mitt Romney as many pundits continued to label the race too close to call.
Political operatives focused on the ground game Monday, arranging candidates’ yard signs and heading door-to-door to sway the last of the undecided and drum up turnout at the polls.
And while consensus says New York state will carry the Democratic ticket in the Electoral College, in the Tonawandas, opinions still varied widely, with many who plan on voting for one candidate or another today saying the economy headlines their viewpoints.
Greg Stenis, who owns Dwyer’s Irish Pub on Webster Street in North Tonawanda — were residents gazed at election coverage Monday afternoon — said he is one of the undecided, though as a registered Republican, he’s leaning toward Romney.
“We just need to do something with the deficit,” he said, “and I look at the presidency the same way I look at business.”
Kerri Fleming, a bartender there, said she will be out of town on election day and sent in an absentee ballot late last month in favor of Romney.
“I just don’t think Obama does any good for America,” she said.
Across the street at Ava’s Place, owner Randy Siford said he is an ardent Democrat who views the difference between Romney and Obama as a choice over the future of the country, now more than ever.
“The president inherited the problem and he’s doing his best to fix it and he has done an excellent job,” he said.
Several others are crossing party lines to make the final determination for who they would like to send to the White House for the next four years.
Dave Kusmierski, of the City of Tonawanda, said he’s voting for Obama “basically because of the way Bush left the economy.”
“I think Obama is moving us in the right direction and deserves another four years,” he said. “Plus, I don’t like rich people, all they do is profit off of us.”
Inversely, David Bentley, another city resident, said he thinks the incumbent’s path is too narrowly focused on the redistribution of wealth.
“I believe you should work for what you have. And Obama is putting us into debt,” he said.
Elsewhere in the region, Romney supporters proved tough to wrangle, with Democrats offering a defense of Obama’s first term.
Angelo D’Aloise and Vince Spadorcia, both 81 and both retired, meet with friends at Mike’s Marketside Cafe off of Pine Avenue in Niagara Falls every Monday morning.
The Monday before election day was no different.
The men, both Obama supporters, expressed concerns over Romney’s relationship with the financial industry. Each said they feel that President George W. Bush’s lax regulations on Walls Street helped to create the recession that Obama has been battling since taking office.
D’Aloise said candidates in that position can’t accomplish everything they promise, and pointed to a staunchly divided House and Senate as one reason Obama hasn’t delivered on all his promises, with Republicans doing everything in their power to trip up the president.
“How can you do business like that?,” he said. “It’s amazing that he did what he did.”
Similarly, Spadorcia pointed to the weak economy that Obama walked into following the Bush administration and the surplus created under President Bill Clinton’s administration as reasons he’s confident that Democrats will be able to continue pulling the country out of recession.
“Why accuse Obama of what Bush did?,” he said. “Bush didn’t help America. He helped the big rich people just like him.”
Jesse Richardson is the owner of Richardson’s Fast Food and Deli, also in Niagara Falls. He can be seen outside his establishment flipping ribs as the smoke on the grill almost every day. On Monday, Richardson was in his usual spot wearing a jacket and a scarf and retreating into his store to duck out of the chilly air.
Richardson, who is black, said that he is supporting Obama, as he did in 2008, but not because of his race. Instead, he said he feels Obama’s policies will be better for the middle class than what is being proposed by the Romney campaign.
He too blamed the divided state of politics in Washington as a reason for Obama’s record in the Oval Office.
“A lot of things don’t get done if you can’t come to an agreement on how your going to spend this money and how much debt we are going to incur by spending,” Richardson said. “What’s the priority here?”
Richardson said he thinks taxes will go up in the next term regardless of who wins the presidency tomorrow. He said that he understands why owners of small businesses might be worried about how the Affordable Care Act might increase costs, but that as the economy grows, things will even out.
“If the economy grows enough, I think, when their profit grows it would somewhat balance itself,” Richardson said.
Others with less or no experience at the polls will be setting their sights on voting machines for the first time this year.
Gino Lobianco, 21, said he will cast his first-ever vote today for Obama.
“I think that he’ll follow through with most of his goals and what he promised when he was running,” Lobianco said. “I think he’ll be able to get a lot of that done in another four years.”
He said he is excited for the chance to vote in a presidential race and that he doesn’t have sympathy for young people who complain about politics but don’t make it to the polls on election day.
“The people that are lazy and don’t want to go out and vote, they don’t really have that much room to talk if they’re not going to follow through with what they believe in,” Lobianco said. “If you have the opportunity to vote, vote. If you don’t then I think you don’t have the right to complain.”Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.