Hudson Valley voters to Obama: Fix the economy
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Hudson Valley voters who gave President Barack Obama another four years on the job say they're eager to see him make good on a promise to lift the country out of its economic malaise.
At the Alexis Diner in Newburgh on Wednesday, customers sipped coffee and pored over the day's newspapers as they expressed hope that their vote for Obama would translate into the thing the middle class needs most -- a robust economy.
"I would like to see an increase in jobs and to see him fight the deficit, things that the average middle-income family could benefit from," said Tony Ranalli, 60, of Highland.
Construction worker Drew Novack, 29, also of Highland, was not thrilled with either of the choices for president but said he was willing to give Obama another four years to give it a try.
VOTERS FLOCKED TO THE POLLS
Nearly seven out of 10 registered voters in Rockland County and five of 10 in Westchester County went to the polls Tuesday, according to preliminary turnout figures from election officials in both counties.
Westchester's numbers could tick upward since only 80 percent of precinct votes have been counted while election workers canvass machines for the final tally. In Westchester, 284,731 of 534,452 registered voters cast a ballot in the presidential race, officials said.
Rockland County officials were not sure whether the 70 percent turnout was a record. Of the county's 176,000 registered voters, 116,000 went to the polls and an additional 7,000 voted by absentee ballot or through affidavits created by an executive order issued Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"It's a presidential election, and people want to get out and vote," said Louis Babcock, the Republican elections commissioner for Rockland.
Statewide, the unofficial election turnout for the presidential race was 56 percent of registered voters, with more than 6.1 million casting votes, state election officials said. The preliminary numbers are from 98 percent of the state's precincts and don't include absentee or affidavit ballots, state election officials said.
DEMS RIDE WAVE OF VICTORIES
Obama led a Democratic charge at the ballot box that spurred a wave of upsets for Republican incumbents. Rep. Nan Hayworth, a 52-year-old retired ophthalmologist, lost a bid for a second term to former Bill Clinton aide Sean Patrick Maloney. Republican Assemb. Robert Castelli lost to White Plains Councilman David Buchwald despite an attempt to link himself to Cuomo, the state's most high-profile Democrat.
Democrat George Latimer held off Republican Bob Cohen in a hotly contested battle for the state Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Suzi Oppenheimer. And in Dutchess County, Republican Sen. Steve Saland was upset by Democratic challenger Terry Gipson.
Helene Simon, a banker from Port Chester who works in Manhattan, was pleased with Tuesday's national and local election results.
"We have Nita Lowey again. I think she has represented us well," Simon said. "And I think George Latimer will do good things. He has a lot of experience from being in the Assembly, and I think that will help him in the Senate."
VOTERS NOT READY FOR 'TEA' TIME
Maloney supporters said Hayworth's close ties to the ultraconservative Tea Party hurt her re-election bid in the newly redrawn 18th Congressional District, which includes parts of Westchester, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
"I didn't like the whole Tea Party thing in terms of women's rights, her stance (opposing) abortion," said Debbie Rinaldi, 51, a court stenographer from Bedford. "Reproductive rights are important to me. I don't think she supported the middle class."
Retired nurse Mary Riechers, 68, said Hayworth is "too Tea Party for me. I can't go there."
As for Maloney, Riechers said she knew little about the 46-year-old gay attorney, who lives in Putnam County. "He just seemed young and fresh to me."
"There might be more Democrats than Republicans here, and with the Democrats voting for Obama, I'm sure that helped Maloney," said Parker, of Bedford. "I'm not sure why Maloney won. He's a carpetbagger."
Other voters said the victors in Tuesday's election need to address shortcomings exposed by Hurricane Sandy.
"Getting more work for the economy," said Karen Bonilla, 33, a home health aide who works in New Rochelle. "And gas prices. Get them down a little because since the hurricane, they've been bad."
IT'S STILL THE ECONOMY, (STUPID)
In the presidential race, Simon believes the best road to economic recovery is with Obama.
"I wanted him to be able to move the economy forward, giving it the best chance to recover," she said.
Voters, however, were steadfast in demanding that the rival parties end Washington gridlock and find solutions.
"I'm so grateful that President Obama was re-elected," said John Corcoran, 50, of Congers, a clinician at a foster care facility. But the hard work of rebuilding the economy continues, he added.
"Both sides of the aisle are in Washington to serve the country as a whole," Corcoran said. "Do the job you were elected to do. Find the consensus."
Corcoran was not alone in pressing for an end to partisan bickering.
"Somehow we have got to get the two parties together," said Pam Chavez, 62, of Tarrytown, who owns a furniture manufacturing company. "That's the biggest issue. The Republicans just don't want to work with Democrats, but they have to."
Obama won because Romney "didn't connect with the middle class," Chavez said.
The election process was "messy" but it works, said Jan Hilgeman, 51, of Wesley Hills, who is a vice president of a construction company and called herself a political independent. Like others, she pointed to economic issues as the challenge that continues into Obama's second term.
"Health care, our financial condition as a country -- the economy, debt, jobs. It's all one package," she said.
With Betty Ming Liu, Meghan Murphy and Ron Bittner