DANVILLE – Local voters Joe and Nancy Milak of Danville are pretty optimistic about Danville right now, especially with the casino and revenue it's expected to generate for city government.
Nancy and Joe, who’ve lived in the Philadelphia area, said they’ve seen what casinos do for an area – helping with jobs, bringing in restaurants and hotels and other development, home values go up and other benefits.
“We’re so blessed here,” she said.
Joe, 83, and Nancy, 80, are Democrats who have supported Republican Illinois governors such as Jim Edgar in the past and union-supporters. They’re glad the casino will be built union with local workers.
Joe, who is a retired cement mason, and Nancy, who has had various jobs, said while they are pleased with local and state politics right now, nationally, they remain concerned.
“He’s the worst president we’ve had,” Joe said about President Donald Trump.
“We were brought up not to lie,” Nancy added.
“He lies every day,” Joe said about Trump.
This is the sixth part of a Pulse of the Voters project of talking to local residents on voting and issues important to them. The Commercial-News and other Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. newspapers have been collaboratively working on the project since last year.
Nancy said she regularly watches various news programs about national politics and stays up-to-date on happenings in Washington, D.C.
“It’s frightening,” she said. “We have lost our standing in the world.”
Issues that are important to them include health care and its costs, affordable higher education and gun control. She said the police department is here to protect citizens. Nancy also doesn’t like politicians who only tell people what they want to hear, instead of doing something about it.
Joe and Nancy said they remember the first time they voted for president. Joe remembers the days of Dwight D. Eisenhower and she, John F. Kennedy. She postponed a surgery so she could vote for him.
They say they like Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg right now, but they’re still waiting to see what happens leading up to the 2020 presidential election. Nancy thinks Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are too old. She likes Buttigieg’s service to his country and his background of being a mayor in Indiana.
“I think he’s going to be good,” she said.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” Joe said.
Nathan Lenstra, 39, of Danville, says his political mood right now is pretty good locally, but he’s frustrated, nationally.
Lenstra, who is married and has a 3-year-old daughter, is a pastor and director of The Hope Center. He considers himself an independent voter, voting for Republican, Democrat and third-party candidates.
“I have a political affiliation of none,” he said.
He said he and his wife are regular voters, and he keeps up on local and national politics. He said he thinks it’s important to vote and disagrees with people who say their vote doesn’t count.
“I disagree. I think it does matter,” he said.
As an American, we have the right and freedom to vote, Lenstra said.
He said he looks at a candidate’s stance on issues that are important to him, such as being pro-life, and the candidate’s character, experience and background.
“I try to be informed,” he said about doing research.
He said some candidates seem to care more about all kinds of people than others. He said some seem genuine, but others seem out of touch with their constituents.
Lenstra says he’s not a President Donald Trump fan, but also doesn’t have anyone else in mind yet on whom he’d vote for president in 2020. He said the impeachment inquiry hasn’t changed his opinion or views of Trump.
He said he’ll wait and see who ends up being the candidates. He too said he’s voted third-party and hasn’t voted in some races when there isn’t a candidate whom he can support.
Other issues he thinks are important nationally are immigration in which he supports more open borders, health care, fiscal responsibility and criminal justice issues.
“There needs to be some reform with health care,” Lenstra said.
He adds that he also supports stricter regulations on assault-style weapons.
“I think there’s more that can be done,” he said about background checks and how people acquire guns.
He also favors making higher education more accessible for lower-wage individuals.
He said he has a feeling of frustration on the national level with the legislative and executive branches seeing a lot of friction. There’s a lot of polarization. He said he wishes the elected leaders would work across party lines and work together to pass legislation as has been done in the past to benefit America.
“I think it’s pretty unhealthy,” he said about the legislators not working together, and the bickering and infighting.
He also hopes he can be friends with someone who has differing political views. He said he likes to think they could sit down and respect each other.
Locally, Lenstra said he’s “excited” about the way things are going for Danville.
“I’m a fan of Mayor (Rickey) Williams,” he said, adding that he’s also proud the city has its first African-American mayor.
Vermilion County Republican Party Chairwoman Jane McFadden said she’s more concerned about state government right now, with all its taxes and the need to be more business friendly, and less nationally.
McFadden, 56, of Westville, who also is Vermilion County coroner, a Danville Area Community College faculty member and former officer with the Danville Police Department, working there for almost 23 years, said she grew up in a family with Democrats but her father was a staunch Republican.
McFadden, the parent to two and grandparent, remembers first voting for Ronald Reagan.
“I thought he was a great Republican,” she said.
Fiscally, McFadden said she’s very conservative; but she also is supportive of funding social service agencies such as for substance and alcohol abuse rehabilitation. She’s most concerned about national fiscal responsibility. McFadden said she’s also pro-life, but doesn’t force her views on people.
She’s also for women empowerment and would love to see a woman president. She said she’d support the right candidate, such as if Condoleezza Rice ran. McFadden said there are a lot of Republican women, who she thinks are a silent majority.
She said she might not agree with everything President Trump does or his decisions, but she supports him.
She said she’s interested to see who will emerge as the Democratic presidential candidate, but still plans to vote for Trump again.
“He resonates with the common people,” she said, adding that Trump is changing the way things are done in Washington, D.C. “He’s accomplished way more than past presidents.”