City residents say Iraq top issue in election

By William Thompson, Freedom Newspapers

As the Democrats take the political center stage this week in Boston, many Clovis-area residents will be listening closely for information they can use to make their decisions in the presidential election.

Iraq is the main issue on many of their minds.

“I want some resolution,” said Vikki Solari, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “I want our military people to be safe. I think Bush is going in the right direction. I think the decision to go into Iraq, I think it needed to be done.”

Anna Easley also said Iraq tops her list of concerns.
“We need to get out, We need to push to get out of Iraq,” said Easley. “I haven’t decided yet who I will vote for.”
Ray Gerzon, a Clovis hairstylist, said he thinks American troops should stay in Iraq.

“We need to stay as long as it takes even if it takes 10-15 years,” Gerzon said. “I think George Bush will stay the course.”

Todd Carr, who recently moved to Clovis, said he expects the U.S. to be in Iraq at least another five years.

“I think the Iraq issue is going to drive the election,” said Carr. “Kerry might get us out of Iraq faster, but we will still have an obligation to take care of things over there.”
Carr said whichever candidate wins will have his work cut out for him.

“Bush is hardline against the terrorists,” he said. “If Kerry wins I think the terrorists will try to test him.”

Jerry Elliott, a local manager for Conway Oil Company, said he is leaning toward Kerry.

“I think there will be fewer losses of life in Iraq if Kerry is elected,” said Elliott. “George Bush put us in there, and I really don’t know how we are going to get out of there.”
Brett Johnson, Curry County Republican chairman said he is aware of his party member’s concerns about Iraq.

“Iraq is where the focus is right now,” said Johnson. “We’ve got to invest the money to fight the enemy where they are at in Iraq rather than fight them here at home.”

Johnson said he believes in George Bush’s Iraq policy.

“We are making great strides in Iraq,” said Johnson. “Iraq is a country that allows our forces in their country to keep their country stabilized. I don’t know if we will ever be able to pull out of there completely.”

Gloria Wicker, former Clovis city commissioner and a Democratic candidate for Curry County commission, said she is aware that Iraq is top on Democrats’ minds.

“I don’t know if anyone in the city of Clovis is qualified to know all the answers about Iraq,” said Wicker, “but I am terribly upset by the loss of lives in Iraq.”

Wicker said she hasn’t heard of any definite plans for Iraq on the part of John Kerry.

“I hope that John Kerry, if elected, will move in the direction of getting all of our former allies in Europe and the rest of the world back on our side again,” she said. “I know that the Vietnam veterans who served with him have confidence in him.