Bethlehem residents will file into local polling places to vote on Nov. 6. The Brown and White spoke to North and South Bethlehem residents about the upcoming midterm election.
Some local residents said they have noticed more young people voting in recent elections and many agree that there are high stakes for this election.
The Democratic party has the opportunity to take control of the House of Representatives and Senate and oppose President Donald Trump’s agenda. The Republican party could put a firm hold on its current position if it manages to keep its majority in both the House and the Senate.
Q: What are your thoughts on the election, and why is it important to vote?
Kevin Barron, a structural engineer and North Bethlehem resident: I am not very political myself, and I am registered as an independent. I think both sides have their pluses and minuses, however, I am leaning Democratic because I have no affinity for Donald Trump. I always go to vote, and I urge everyone to go out and vote.
Aaron Dillenbeck, a cafe executive officer and a South Bethlehem resident: I believe that getting out and voting is the most important thing. This upcoming midterm election is more important than any midterm election in recent history. I voted in the last presidential election. Usually, during midterms, the Republican turnout is generally higher, but I expect more Democrats — especially younger people — to go out and vote this time.
Aflexer Illick, a landlord and North Bethlehem resident: I have been living on the North Side for over 50 years, and I have been going to vote since I turned 21. I think that it is critical to vote because it is essential to send a message to the politicians in Washington. I am excited to go out and vote against Donald Trump’s party because the president is all talk, and he contradicts his own words over and over again.
Nano Gomez, the owner of MVNMT Boutique, located in South Bethlehem: I am hoping for change in the upcoming midterms, and I want to see a different president soon. I didn’t vote in the last election, however, I am definitely going to vote in this election. I urge everyone to go vote so that democracy can win.
Q: Do you see any visible divide between North and South residents?
Barron: I would say that the divide is rooted in history and dates back to the Bethlehem Steel days. The houses on the North Side belonged to Bethlehem Steel executives, while the houses on the South Side belonged to the labor class of the company. Politics today (are) so divided, and both sides try to roadblock each other every step of the way. I believe that younger generations don’t see race and color. However, older generations still can’t let it go.
Dillenbeck: Both sides of the city are not necessarily divided. The North Side is slightly more upscale, and living costs are more expensive. Bethlehem is the 7th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, and this district is usually a blue district. Susan Wild, the Democratic candidate, is currently favored to win. Over the past few years, there has been a revitalization of the South Side, and both sides are getting better at building a community together.
Rose Camp, a pollster and North Bethlehem resident: I don’t notice a visible divide on both sides of the city anymore as I spend a significant portion of my time on the South Side due to my job and also because my church is located on that side of the city. Older people in the area tend to be more Republican, however, a lot of people vote against the way they are registered. I even changed my registration from the last election. I have seen more young voters show up to polling stations in recent years, and I believe that even more young voters will show up to vote this upcoming election.
Sean Kashon, ’19, a Lehigh student and South Bethlehem resident: The divide between the two sides only exists historically. I used to visit Bethlehem as a child, and the differences between the two sides that existed back then have mostly been eliminated.
Q: In which direction do you think the country is headed?
Illick: We all have to help each other succeed, but Donald Trump’s “America first” rhetoric is having an adverse effect on our ties with countries across the world. I didn’t like what he said to world leaders during his recent speech at the United Nations Headquarters.
Gomez: I think that the country is heading in a positive direction economically, however, I don’t think it is solely because of the current administration. The work all the previous presidents put in should also be recognized.
Camp: Our country has never been this divided, and it will be interesting to observe how many people go and vote in this upcoming election. I think more people will go and vote in this election because everyone is revved up.
Kashon: Due to the current administration, we have seen a rise in nationalism all over the country. There are more people now that oppose things like immigration and free trade. We are going through unprecedented times, and the president name-calling people regularly over Twitter increases the divide in our country.