Monday, June 29, 2015

In Camden City, big turnout

Matt Katz reports:

In Camden City, big turnout

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Matt Katz reports:

In Camden City, where about 90 percent of residents are black or Hispanic, the city clerk reported turnout four times higher than previous years. And at one polling place at Yorkship Elementary School, more than a dozen people interviewed all said they were voting for Barack Obama.

One man said he was voting for Obama and not anything else on the ballot. Others said they were first-time voters or hadn’t voted in years.

“A lot of young black males like us, that people don’t expect to vote, are voting,” said Reese Rice, 22, a first-time voter. “People are surprised to see us get our vote on.”

Many of the voters were unemployed, and said they were counting on Obama to create jobs and spread health coverage to the uninsured. “That’s his promise,” said Cecil Lloyd, 55, who is unemployed. “He’s going to do things we haven’t seen before.”

A number of young women walked in with broods of children, and as they gathered them into the voting booths they sounded the same theme: It’s for them.

“It’s just 2008, so my kids go through so much, and I know we can make a difference, I know we can,” said Katrina Goldsmith, 32, a mother of seven.

Obama serves as inspiration for her children, she said. “I just tell them anything they put their mind to, they can do it,” she said.

Twice in the last five years, Dorcas Dixon, a 29-year-old mother of four boys, has been forced to spend months living on the streets of Camden. She said she is voting for the first time because the government has denied her shelter and health coverage for her children.

“I realized [the government wasn’t] doing anything for us,” she said. “I’m hoping they do more for us, because we can’t even afford the rent.”

As she spoke, her two oldest boys showed off report cards they just received – straight As and B-pluses.

“With everything they’ve been through, they’re still doing good,” Dixon said.

Another mother of four, Stephanie Black, 26, said she never thought she would live to see a black man as president. “Going from slaves to the White House, it’s just weird to me,” she said.

Black and her husband, Levar, 26, said they were voting for the first time because they felt like it would actually affect them this time.

“All the other times it didn’t feel like it was a necessity,” he said. “It’s going to affect us for at least four years.”

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The Inauguration: Jan. 20 blog brings you coverage of President-elect Barack Obama's transition into office.

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Thomas FitzgeraldThomas Fitzgerald joined The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000, and has covered Harrisburg as well as city, state and national politics for the newspaper. He was a “boy on the bus” in the 2004 presidential campaign and during primary contests in 2000 and 1996.

Nathan Gorenstein has covered politics and government in the city, state and nation for the Inquirer. He's worked in the city hall bureau, had a stint on the business desk, and once covered the suburbs. After serving as assistant regional editor, he was named editor of the "Politics" web site.

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