The countdown to the November 6th midterm elections has begun, and the mood in Scranton is electric. Inside the Downtown Deli and Eatery, the Breakfast Club of Scranton gathers for its weekly breakfast and to catch up on current events. The group of five friends—and for the most part lifelong Scrantonians— includes a monsignor, a former mayor and Vietnam War vet, a retired air force veteran and postal worker, a retired editor for The Times–Tribune, and the executive director of the Scranton public theater.
The men are all registered voters; some are Democrats, a few are undecided, and one is a self-described “demopublican”.
The Scranton Breakfast Club is a rowdy bunch, and although the friends sometimes have differing opinions, they share some good-natured ribbing along with their meals.
Back in 2016, a NYU journalist sat down with the Breakfast Club to take their pulse prior to the Presidential Elections. On a recent rainy Saturday, they reflected on the events of the last two years, and what the current congressional elections mean for their community, which has recently been redistricted.
Michael Iacavazzi, 77
Iacavazzi, a registered Democrat, said he is leaning more Republican these days. He voted for Trump in the last election, but ideally would like to see an independent candidate emerge so he could have more choices as a voter. A retiree, he said he is glad the economy is doing well at the moment. When asked about the so-called “Migrant Caravan,” composed of people from Central America—primarily from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—who are trying to enter the United States and apply for asylum, he mentioned that his grandparents were also immigrants from Poland and Italy, and says he’s not opposed to immigration. He is concerned, however, about large groups of immigrants coming to the U.S. who might contain “bad actors” that may be “coming here to cause trouble.” He would also like to see more women running for office because he thinks they would be more compassionate than a male candidate.
David Wenzel, 73
Wenzel is a Vietnam veteran and a former mayor of Scranton. He survived a land mine in the war and became an advocate for people with disabilities when he returned home. He describes himself as solidly Republican, and plans to stick with the party for the upcoming midterms. He doesn’t see any better choices on the other side, even though he thinks Trump is a “jerk.” Wenzel does, however, think that Trump did a great job of picking the people who work for his administration, and is satisfied that he made the right choice.
Monsignor Constantine Siconolfi, 84
Siconolfi will probably split his vote in the upcoming midterms, he said. He likes the way the economy is going, but said he didn’t like the idea of open borders. As a former social activist, he has mixed feelings about the incoming Migrant Caravan. He said that he feels compassion for the people in exodus from South America given the violence they face in their homeland. He thinks, however, that their methods show great disrespect for the laws of the United States, and feels they should go through the proper procedures to get here. He believes that Trump is doing the right thing by sending additional troops to protect our borders, whereas the Democratic party has been silent on major issues like building a border wall for security.
Edgar Kearney, 80
Kearney, a lifelong registered Democrat, is undecided about who he is voting for in the upcoming elections, largely because he unhappy with the state of affairs in his party. He was not a fan of the Clintons, but he liked Obama’s leadership. He crossed party lines and voted for Trump in 2016, and said the President is doing well on the economy. He’s not pleased, however, by the high turnover in the White House. He is in favor of gun control measures aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of troublemakers. He said he will probably split his vote this time around.
Robert Shlesinger, 68
Shlesinger is the theatrical producer for the Scranton public theater and a huge Redskins fan. He calls himself a “demopublican,” meaning that he is “a Democrat at heart but a Republican in the pocket.” He was a registered Democrat, but switched to Republican in recent years.He is uncertain about who he will vote for in the upcoming midterms, and said he is tired of political rhetoric. He voted for Trump in 2016 because he felt Americans needed a business person in charge. He thinks America is the most gifted country in the world, so he understands why there is a mass of immigrant hopefuls approaching our borders. He does, however think they should follow the proper procedures for applying for refugee status.
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