Before the presidential debate began last week, Kathy Chicoine was already thinking about what would be discussed.
For Chicoine, a special education teacher from Cuyahoga Falls, the debates provide substance that short political ads often dismiss.
“I wish there were more debates,” Chicoine said, “instead of spending money on the ads.”
As the candidates met center stage at the University of Denver, Chicoine couldn’t help but notice the casual exchange between the two.
“Not that it’ll sway my vote, but I want to know Romney’s motivation.”
She wants to know why Romney wants to be president. Romney turned the debate into a war, fighting for as much time as he could get, Chicoine said. What pundits called an “irritated and disinterested performance” by the president was, according to her, a calm and collected portrayal.
She liked Obama addressing education and teacher training.
She views Obama, whom she favors, as someone with a good sense of humor, which is something that makes him more likable to her.
But she’s not laughing. Chicoine still uses the word “hopeless” over and over to describe how she feels toward the candidates and the election.
“It’s not gonna get better.”
Chicoine, 51, was shocked to hear Obama talk about a teacher with 42 students in her class and 10-year-old textbooks. It struck a chord.
She said the debate provided more details for both sides. She even felt as if they were playing to undecided voters, like her.
Still, each platform shares policies that she doesn’t agree with when it comes to education.
The “Race to the Top” program touted by Obama doesn’t work, Chicoine said, who said a successful system needs to help students on a personal level, not through incentivized innovation. It’s something people don’t understand unless they work in the field, she said.
“They don’t know what they’re up against.”
Chicoine won’t cast a vote until that “hopeless” feeling subsides. She looks to each candidate to bring clarity and purpose.
“The problems seem so big and insurmountable,” Chicoine said.
She feels bogged down by the innumerable issues. She spends more time sifting through the issues than learning about the ones that matter to her.
“How do you pick one,” Chicoine said. “Some are more personal to me.”
TheNewsOutlet.org is a collaborative effort between the Youngstown State University journalism program, Kent State University, the University of Akron and professional media outlets including, WYSU-FM Radio and The Vindicator (Youngstown), the Beacon Journal and Rubber City Radio (Akron).