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Obama win felt locally

In 1932, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression and when voters went to the polls that November, they chose Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt over incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover. Among those voters was Lillian Walker, who has proudly voted in every election since she turned 18 in 1931.

Decades later, at age 95, Walker cast her vote for Democrat Barack Obama on Tuesday, who became the first African American elected president of the United States.

Although she is one of the founders of the Kitsap YWCA, participated in the civil rights movement and been involved in myriad community-building efforts, Walker said race wasn’t a factor in her decision.

“I didn’t vote for him because he is black,” she said. “First of all he’s a Democrat and I believe he could do something great for this country. I think he’s the right man for the job.”

If Obama is able to accomplish even a third of his stated goals as president, Walker said he will be considered a success.

As a lifelong participant in civic affairs, Walker was encouraged by the large numbers of younger voters, who exercised their right to cast their ballots in this year’s election.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Walker said.

At Bremerton High School, Madonna Hannah, who is the school’s fashion marketing career and technical educator, saw firsthand the reaction of students who were on the cusp of being able to vote this year and were inspired by Obama’s success.

“President-elect Obama’s extraordinary accomplishment is a shining moment in American history,” Hannah said. “A moment to be held up as an example of what can happen if a person believes in themselves and if others have a strong trust and belief in them also.”

Obama’s election is a moment to be cherished by everyone regardless of their color, gender or economic situations, she said.

“It is a moment that begs BHS students to give pause to really dream about what they believe they can achieve,” Hannah said. “To believe they can do anything, to believe they have the confidence and creative minds to achieve their highest potential.”

A couple of Hannah’s students shared their thoughts on Obama’s election, although they weren’t able to vote for him on Tuesday.

“I am so happy Obama won the election,” said 15-year-old Carleigh Quiriarte. “This has given me hope for the future that our country is changing for the better. The 2008 election has definitely changed my views on American politics and maybe someday I will run for the presidency as not just a female but as a proud Hispanic-American female.”

Kayla Calhoon-Renzo, 16, agreed Obama’s election is inspiring to everyone.

“I’m so glad we have an African American president,” Calhoon-Renzo said. “This says, that no matter what color you are in America...you can do and be whoever you want to be. Mr. Obama, strived and fought to reach his goal.”

Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman also spoke highly of Obama’s achievement, noting its positive reflection on America as a whole.

“This election shows that America is truly the land of opportunity for those who are willing to work hard, and believe in their vision,” Bozeman said. “It was a great night for America and for the world.”

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