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  • Mark Weithman was leaving the polls in Merrimack with his wife, Dorothy, and their 19-year-old daughter, Ariel, who had just voted for the first time. The family came out to support Obama.



    Hattie Bernstein photo
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Primary voting a family affair in Merrimack

By HATTIE BERNSTEIN

MERRIMACK - It was chilly standing outside St. John Neumann Church this morning, but 49-year-old Mark Weithman was fired up.

“You’ve got the economy, health care, jobs, everything all mishmashed together,” said the father of three who has been unemployed for the past 20 months. “There’s not one issue.”

Weithman didn’t divulge his candidate, at least by name.

“My candidate didn’t do the rounds,” he said, adding, “He’s a shoe-in for the Democratic ticket.”

Weithman said long-term unemployment and the recent loss of health care insurance for himself and his family have strengthened his belief that ideas count more than party,

“I watched the debates and they’ll blow smoke at you when in reality, the president doesn’t have that power. You have to get the Congress to do that.”

Weithman was leaving the polls with his wife, Dorothy, and their 19-year-old daughter, Ariel, who had just voted for the first time. The couple also has two younger children.

“I asked around and gathered information,” Ariel Weithman said. “It’s pretty exciting to help determine who’s in charge.”

She said she felt both obligated, and privileged, to vote.

Only Dorothy Weithman, however, came right out with her pick.

“I voted for Obama. I like Obama,” she said, adding that the partisanship in Congress, not the president, is responsible for what’s happening in Washington.

“You can make all the promises you want, but if you don’t have Congress behind you you’re stuck,” she said.

Evelyn Anziano, 70, was standing nearby waiting for an entry into the conversation.

A retired nurse and teacher, Anziano said that making a decision was “very difficult.”

“I don’t go for a lot of words, a lot of promises,” she said. “I feel they can’t do anything unless Congress is behind them.”

Anziano said she didn’t meet any of the candidates who came to the state to campaign, although she watched the televised debates.

“I watch the various channels and listen, and then I pray,” she said.

Kelly Shimmel, 50, a homemaker and small business owner, was wearing a red, white, and blue sticker on her shirt indicating that she had voted.

“I think New Hampshire voters have a rigorous process,” Shimmel said. “All the candidates, all the races. We listen to the debates, attend the rallies, talk to the candidates.”

Shimmel said she studied Web sites, watched the news, and considered the candidate that would “be the best for our country.”

She didn’t say who among the Republican candidates had won her vote.

“I believe any of these candidates is better than our President,” she offered, adding, “The political process should play itself out, and we should vote our conscience knowing that there’s never any perfect candidate.”