Small businesses in South Bethlehem have different philosophies when it comes to maintaining their businesses in the midst of a historic election, but their main desire is clear: They want a sense of normalcy.
Jeff Vaclavik, owner and manager of Deja Brew Coffeehouse & Deli, is supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden in this election. Vaclavik is eager to return to business as usual and believes a national plan to manage the pandemic will be an effective solution.
“So far, we have not had any kind of real plan at all,” Vaclavik said. “It’s changed so many times in so many different ways. Instead of handling it on a case by case, state by state basis, let’s get some kind of national plan in place where we can get out of this.”
Sal Vasile, member of the family-owned business Anna’s Brick Oven Pizza, declined to share which candidate he will be supporting. He said he does not have many concerns going into the election.
“Everybody’s got to eat, so I don’t know how much (the election) would affect this type of business,” Vasile said.
Tony Silvoy, owner of The Goose, also declined to share who he’d be voting for in the election, but he said he was specifically unhappy with the way the state has handled the pandemic.
“Telling everybody how to shut down and not to leave their houses and not to look at each other and not to go outside — I don’t know where they came up with all this stuff so fast,” Silvoy said. “Other states are wide open and doing business like nothing is going on.”
Vaclavik said the amount of paperwork required to file for government aid for small businesses is daunting.
“There are people out here who need help, and, instead of just saying, ‘Here’s the help you need,’ everything is so difficult to do,” Vaclavik said.
When asked about the handling of the pandemic, both Vaclavik and Silvoy agreed there needs to be some sort of improvement.
In terms of the congressional elections, Vaclavik said he is frustrated with Congress’s inability to pass bills due to the Republican majority in the Senate.
“What we’ve seen for years now is such a stalemate,” Vaclavik said. “In Obama’s eight years, anything he tried to get through was stalemated by (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell. I think we’re kind of held hostage by this one guy in this country, and we’re doing nothing to move anything forward for the average person.”
Neither Silvoy nor Vasile had any specific concerns regarding the congressional election.
Vaclavik said he recognizes Biden is not the perfect candidate but believes he is a much better alternative to the current president. He does not think the country will recover with another four years of President Donald Trump.
Valclavik also worries about the current political climate in the country and the safety of people.
He said there is a major divide among people and believes it needs to end. He wants people to put their anger behind them and become more personable with each other.
Silvoy offered a different perspective on the election.
“We’ve been here for 42 years,” Silvoy said. “We’ve had seven U.S. presidents, and we’ve been through six Lehigh presidents, and we’re still making sandwiches. I think if you stay focused at what you’re doing, I think you go forward.”