Locals line up for historic election

     It was an early morning for many local voters on Tuesday who lined up to cast their ballots. At the Light on the Corner Church polling place on Waltonia Drive, workers found people waiting when they arrived.

     “There was a line down the sidewalk and around to the corner,” said Steven Charles, precinct inspector.

     By 8:41 a.m. 140 votes had been cast, a change from years past, Charles said. “Usually by 8 a.m. we slow down, but not now,” he said. 

     The energy could be felt throughout local precincts as the lines of voters were steady and strong. For many of the poll workers, the crowds were unprecedented. “I have never seen anything like this,” said Blanche Hamilton.

     She has been a poll worker for 45 years and for the last few elections has said this would be her last. Hamilton is 86-years-old and continues to tell her neighbors that she will retire from polling, but every time an election rolls around she feels a call to duty.

     Poll workers like Hamilton and Charles said they do this type of work because they feel it is their duty to help.

     For some, like Melissa Fazio and Daily High School senior Sarah Saad, this was their first time working the polls. Crescenta Valley High senior Rachel Coutin also had the chance to volunteer as a poll worker for this election — an offer she couldn’t refuse.

     “First I was given the job of instructing others how to properly punch the ballots in order for them to be counted,” Coutin said of her duties. “I was surprised that there were so many people not familiar with the machine itself.” 

     The process was a learning experience for Coutin and other CVHS students that joined her.

“I feel more confident about the voting process. I now know what to do when I get my chance to vote,” she said.

     For Sabrina Walentynowitz, 19, this was the first time she was old enough to vote in a presidential election.

     “Honestly, it was anti-climatic,” Walentynowitz said.

She had spent a lot of time going over the propositions and deciding on how to vote, but by the time she cast her ballot, it didn’t seem as momentous as she was told it would be.

     “I was really more excited reading through [election] material,” Walentynowitz said. But when all was said and done, she felt good about voting. “I felt like I was part of it.”

     La Crescenta voters ended up selecting, in most cases, the same lineup of state and federal leaders in place before Tuesday, as the nation went through one of the biggest changes in Washington in the past 40 years.

     The election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States brought a record voter turnout in the county and state, but seemed to have little impact on local races.

     The one exception may have been in the 49th Assembly District, where incumbent Anthony Adams was leading Democrat Don Williamson by only 12,000 votes at press time, with a lot of precincts still to be counted. Most of the vote still out was in San Bernardino County, an Adams stronghold.

     One new face on the local scene is state Senator-elect Bob Huff, apparently the winner to succeed Bob Margett in the 29th Senate District. Huff, who defeated former Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy in the primary, is a former Assembly member himself from Diamond Bar. He was receiving 54.6% of the vote, to 38.8% for Democrat Joseph Lyons.

     In other Assembly races touching the local area, Democrat Paul Krekorian was an easy winner in the 43rd District, with 67.9% to 32.1% for Republican Jane Barnett; and Republican Cameron Smyth was re-elected in the 38th District receiving 54.1% to 45.9% for Democrat Carole Luetness.

     Both local members of Congress were re-elected, with 26th District Republican David Dreier receiving 53.5% of the vote to 40.2% for Democrat Russ Warner.

     29th District Democrat Adam Schiff, an early Obama supporter, ran up 69.4% of the vote in defeating Republican Charles Hahn, who received 26.3%.

     Seven of the 12 propositions on the state ballot were approved, including a constitutional ban on same sex marriages, Prop. 8. Voters narrowly approved Prop. 11, creating a reapportionment commission, and also voted to improve conditions for farm animals, Prop. 2. Bonds for a high speed train, Prop. 1, won voter support as did children’s hospital bonds and veterans bonds. Prop. 9, reforming the state parole system, also was approved.

     Voters said no to parental notification before termination of pregnancy, alternate penalties for non-violent drug offenses, an upgrade in renewable energy generation, a bond for purchase of hybrid cars and a boost in grant funding for law enforcement.

     Prop. R, a county sales tax measure for transportation, needed two thirds vote and made it, with 67.1% yes.

     In common with most of the rest of the country, turnout in LA County reached record levels, at 82%.

     Obama’s victory approached landslide proportions by the end of the day, running up greater than half the popular vote and an electoral college number of at least 349, 79 more than needed. Democrats also picked up at least five seats in the Senate and 26 in the House.


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