Political Pulse in Williamsburg/James City County: What issues draw residents to the polls this election

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Voting officials already predict we are on track to see record-breaking voter turnout this November. As more people head to the polls than at any other time in recent memory, what is swaying them toward one candidate or the other?

Williamsburg-James City County has an interesting population dynamic. It’s both a college town and a popular place to retire. The economy is rooted in tourism, and many residents who work in the industry were hit hard by the pandemic shutdowns.

In an age where many college students are learning from home, William & Mary students are grateful to be on campus. It’s something they credit to mask mandates. 

“I think especially as a college student and someone who wants to stay on campus, and like wants to stay here as long as possible, the mask mandate is very important,” said William & Mary freshman Erin Cearlock. 

Cearlock and her peers say they are paying close attention to who does and does not support those mandates. 

“I don’t feel like this should be a political thing,” Cearlock continued. “It’s about public health and it’s about protecting all of our populations.”

Aside from masks, college students say they’re paying close attention to healthcare, racial injustice and climate change. 

Williamsburg and James City County are more than a college area. The area is also a popular place for people to retire.

10 On Your Side caught up Bill and Joyce McKeever in Merchants Square. They have their own priorities when it comes to what issues matter most. 

“I’m paying attention to the economics of the whole thing. To me, that’s how we’re going to get back to the right track or stay on the right track,” explained Bill McKeever. 

“It’s been hard on an awful lot of small businesses. Without trying to be too political, some of the shutdowns have been arbitrary,” said Joyce McKeever. “And Congress needs to come forward with the money for the small businesses. Stop trying to feed their pet projects into it. It’s been disgraceful these past few months because we have friends who own restaurants and small gyms and things like that. And they’ve put their life’s blood into them and they’re going to lose it.”

No matter what issues draw you to the polls this election, if you need a reminder of how important the right to vote is, head over to Colonial Williamsburg. They started a new educational push to focus on the history and importance of voting. 

“Come out and vote, be informed as a thoughtful and active member of the community and to learn and understand how the right to vote was won over the centuries,” said Cash Arehart with Colonial Williamsburg. 

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