Friendly Chatter Among Sign Bearers at Derry Polls

Derry Town Councilor and State Representative candidate Tom Cardon said it for many others when he praised the number of voters who came out Tuesday, Nov. 4. “It’s impressive and I’m glad to see so many people,” the Republican said as he held his own sign in front of Pinkerton Academy. “If I lose by one vote it’s okay because I think 50 percent of the voters are out today.”

He didn’t lose by one vote, he made the cut to serve as one of the 10 State Representatives for Derry, and he wasn’t too far off on the numbers either.

Derry had 20,745 registered voters by the end of the General Election, and 10,326 of those cast ballots.

While Derry went Republican for State Representative, State Senate and County Commissioner, among other offices, the people standing (and shivering) at the town’s three polling places avoided the negativity that characterized the national races and adopted a “may the best person win” attitude, while still hoping it was their person.

“People are upset,” Cardon said. “They don’t like the way the state government, the national government is going.”

“I’ve heard people use words that I wouldn’t even use,” fellow successful state representative candidate John Potucek agreed. The mildest, he said, were “lackeys,” “followers” and “sheep.”

But both they and their Democratic counterparts agreed that the turnout was good. “It was really busy early,” Potucek said. “At 5 p.m. it’s going to go nuts.”

Incumbent State Representative Mary Till, D-Derry, said from her post at Calvary Baptist Church, District 2, that the voters were out in force. “There was a line out to the light pole,” she said. She was unsuccessful in her bid for re-election.

She stood next to State Senate candidate Kristi St. Laurent, a Windham Democrat, who had already worked the polls in her own town and Hampstead, the three towns covered by the Senate District. “It is going well,” St. Laurent said.

The election has stirred people who wouldn’t ordinarily be stirred, sign holder Ron Drotos said. “My wife is talking politics and she never did that before,” he said.

Inside Pinkerton, Assistant Moderator Kevin Gordon gave the numbers for shortly after noon: 997 voters and 707 voters from Districts 1 and 3 combined. “It’s better than I’ve seen in previous years, with a lot of new faces,” Gordon observed. “Maybe it was the negative ads on TV.”

Lines in the Pinkerton gym were four to eight people deep at one point.

“I wish we could see these numbers at a town election,” Councilor Al Dimmock observed as he stopped by to check on things at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, the District 4 polling site.

At Hood, Trisha Chirichiello held a sign for her husband, Brian, a current State Representative who later that day won another term. “It seems to be a decent turnout,” Chirichiello observed. What was driving voters? Probably the economy, she said.

Erica O’Shaughnessy, of Cambridge, Mass., took the day off to hold a sign for her stepmother, Regina Birdsell, a Republican State Senate contender from Hampstead. “It’s a good turnout and pretty consistent,” O’Shaughnessy said,

Democrats Gary Finger, Rick Corkin and Suzanne Tobin, holding signs for their friend Mary Till, who was unsuccessful in her bid for state representative, also said they were pleased with the turnout.

Peg Mullins, a Supervisor of the Checklist working at Hood, said she had registered 50 new or transferred voters by 2 p.m. “I am going to have to send out for more forms,” she said.

Mullins said she didn’t have an explanation for the heightened interest. “It’s an important election, but then they all are,” she said.

The mood was cordial at all sites, with Democrats and Republicans visiting back and forth. The weather was unseasonably bright and warm in the morning, but the skies began to cloud over around 2 p.m.

And one sign-holder at Hood offered an alternative with a sign reading, “Don’t Vote!” Dan Raineri Jr. of Derry explained his reasoning as, “I feel (U.S. Senator) Jeanne Shaheen hasn’t held up her side of things, and Scott Brown isn’t a good choice either.” He said he is particularly concerned with Northern Pass.

Raineri experienced different reactions to his sign. “I got yelled at by some dude, he said my sign was stupid,” Raineri said.

But other people walked by and said, “Good for you,” he added.