Bus Riders take part in the Election

On Thursday afternoon, Reporting I Blog students interviewed University of Oregon bus riders on their views about the upcoming elections. Research showed that the majority of these people did not have a strong opinion about local or national politics because their constituency isn’t being directly addressed in this election cycle.

Bus driver Kiyo Clark, age 57, makes daily stops on the U of O campus at 13th Avenue and Kincaid. Clark works five days a week and told reporters, “I haven’t even studied the ballots, I’m a last-minute type of person.”  He has not had enough time to review issues within the local community or catch the national presidential debates. Clark said, “Between the two main candidates, I don’t think I would vote for either one, but I have to choose.”

Oz Thomas, owner of Obama Fashion, visits multiple schools and college campuses on a daily basis to promote his politically themed products.  The bus is his most convenient mode of transportation. Thomas’ opinion on the presidential election is quite obvious: he sells t-shirts to students with images or slogans supporting President Obama. But he definitely does not discriminate and supports the general process of the election. Thomas said voters should “embrace differences of other parties,” because he believes, “Election is expressing what true people are about.” Clearly, the U of O campus is a great place to find passionate individuals who do have something to say, even if they do not know much about local ballot initiatives or ways that different measures could affect them personally. Thomas does agree with the Oregon ballot initiative for taxes that support kindergarten through 12th grade education, said it would “create more opportunities for myself and my daughter.”

Soccer player Kendall Brooke, age 19, takes the EmX bus to and from school at the Franklin Boulevard stop. She told reporters that she definitely would vote, but was not educated enough about national politics or how local ballot initiatives would affect her as a U of O college student. In response to what her political views are and whom she would vote for in the presidential election, Brooke said, “Probably Romney, because of my parents.”

At the same EmX bus stop, physical therapist Candace Sumner patiently awaits for her bus every day to get to and from work on campus. She has not had much time to review the different measures on the ballot or pay attention to the presidential debates, but she tries to catch the debriefings on the Daily Show and Colbert Report, to stay updated. One issue she did express her opinion about was the Oregon animal rights measure, in which she said, “I’d rather have a healthier way of catching fish.” As a frequent bus passenger, Sumner would like to see something on the ballot to benefit campus employees like her who need an efficient way to get home from work. She said, “I would love EmX to go to the west side of Eugene.”

Unfortunately for bus riders, there is not much on the local Oregon ballot that can improve public transportation for them this year. The one issue of the West EmX is currently not up for voter decision. But, these citizens do have an opinion about the elections even if they do not have a vested interest in certain local issues or the presidential candidates. They all claim they will vote, once they can take the time out of their busy schedules to make their voices heard.

Oz Thomas supports Obama and promotes his business on the U of O campus.

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