Over Breakfast, N.H. Voters Digest a Rowdy Campaign Season

Feb 2, 2016

Around 6 am last Friday, the Mt. Pisgah Diner in Winchester was packed with regulars: people who come to share good food at a small counter. The diner's owner, Joni Otto, says no presidential candidate has ever graced her doorway.

But that doesn't mean politics is missing from the menu.

New Hampshire voters head to the polls one week from today to cast their ballots among a long list of presidential primary candidates. This week, NHPR will have a series of stories that feature the voices of those voters. We start in Winchester, a town in the southwest corner of the state.

The Independent: Joni Otto, diner owner

"I think there’s a lot of cynicism because we’re lied to all the time. Nobody trusts anymore. And that’s what really bothers me with Trump’s antics. I understand why people are attracted to that because we all have that anger. But for me that’s not the face for my country. Even if I were a Republican, and I’m not: I’m an independent.

"I wish there were some really huge issue that grabbed me, that I felt passionate about and that I agreed with a candidate. But there isn’t for me this year. I really wish that we would have a revolution of sorts. You know what I mean? Where everybody got together and just said, “Enough of this!” and throw everybody out of Washington and start fresh. You must have watched the Market Basket scenario. Why can’t we do that as a country? I’m not the only one that’s frustrated, I’m sure."

The Republican: Phil Szczygiel, mechanic 

Joni Otto, owner of the Mt. Pisgah Diner in Winchester
Credit Jack Rodolico

"We need to get somebody in office that can actually get something done this time and address the common man’s concerns, not just the one percenters, as Bernie Sanders puts it.

"Because they’re calling the shots that we live by, but they’re totally exempt from what we see on a daily basis."

The Democrat: Mark Richard, elevator technician

"I’ve always been a Democrat. I’ve come to the point where I can go either way right now. I just want to hear somebody say what really needs to be addressed.

"It used to be when I first came into working, your employer would take care of you. You would make him money. He would reinvest in you. That’s gone now. Everything out there now is greed. And that’s the frustrating part to me. I look at my wife, works at the daycare – $9.15 an hour. It’s kind of like, seriously?

"I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I wish I did – because then I’d be running right now. "