COMMENTARY | Polls closed in Iowa at 9 p.m. on election night. Poll chair heads loaded up their ballots and headed to the Wapello County Courthouse in Ottumwa, Iowa. With the arrival of the ballots, city and county officials began to arrive, those who already hold an elected office, those on this year’s ballot and those vying for a political position in a government office here in Wapello County this year.
Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel greeted me with a wave of surprise, because since my bout with cancer, Wapello County Democrats haven’t seen a lot of me at political events here. But this was a special night for me. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
A short time later, County Supervisor Jerry Parker put in an appearance and we commiserated about the roofs we both had to put on our houses after the June tornado (never officially declared one) that did considerable damage to both our houses. Photos of a tree laying on Jerry’s house held prominence on a Facebook page, Ottumwa, We Love Ottumwa, in the days following the June tempest. We were lucky. Something heavy landed on our roof a couple of places, crushing the sheeting, but we didn’t have to remove any trees from our structure.
Mark Miller, running for County Sheriff, showed up with his wife, Cindy, to wait for election results and did an interview with KTVO television while he waited.
Representative Mary Gaskill and I visited about our hopes and fears for the election while Mary watched text messages arriving on her cell phone. Gaskill wondered if racial biases may have plagued Obama’s first four years in office, but she was optimistic his next four years could resemble Clinton’s last four years in office.
I actually learned Obama had won when I made a telephone call home, and my husband answered it, saying, “It’s official. Fox News just declared Obama the winner.” I squealed in delight, and announced this fantastic news to the room in general, and realized I was the only truly excited one. Across the room, the Republican contingent had turned their backs on us. My fellow Democrats didn’t miss a beat, as though it was only what they had expected, after all.
I have to agree with Mary: The election results may not have been a mandate for Obama, but they had to send a clear message to Congress that the voters are not happy with the last four years of inaction.
Wapello County has 20,912 registered voters. With 15,393 votes cast Tuesday, this is a 73.6 percent voter turnout. In other words, the get out the vote effort in Wapello County was resounding success.