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Divided States: 'I'm Ready To Vote For Hillary,' Suzanne Menarcine Says


And I'm Steve Inskeep in Atlanta, Ga., which is one of the divided states. We're visiting several states this fall, divided states as we call them in this election season. On this morning of the first presidential debate, we are listening to voters in many Georgia communities, including outside Macon, Ga., which is where we have found reporter Grant Blankenship of Georgia Public Broadcasting. He is reporting from the porch of a voter.

Hi, Grant.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP, BYLINE: Hi, Steve. How are you this morning?

INSKEEP: OK. So where are you exactly? And what do you see there?

BLANKENSHIP: I'm on the back of a very leafy, green suburban community. It's a beautiful place. Macon is about 90 miles south of Atlanta. Macon has a population of about 160,000 people.

INSKEEP: What's the economy like? And what are the big industries there?

BLANKENSHIP: The largest industry here is the Air Force base about 20 miles south. That's Robins Air Force Base. We're also home to a huge hospital that serves much of middle and south Georgia. It's a trauma center where if you're hurt near the Florida border, odds are that you're going to end up here. Macon tends to vote Democratically, locally. But, of course, Georgia, on the state level, most of the elected officials are Republicans.

INSKEEP: OK. So you're on the porch of Suzanne Minarcine. Is she there? Can we talk with her for a moment?

BLANKENSHIP: Yeah, yeah. I'd love to let you talk to her. Hold on one second.


INSKEEP: Hi, there. It's Steve Inskeep. Can you hear me OK?

MINARCINE: Yes, I do. Thank you, Steve.

MINARCINE: Thanks for letting us invade your porch. I really appreciate it...

MINARCINE: No problem.

INSKEEP: Are you a gardener?

MINARCINE: No, I'm not (laughter). My husband is.

INSKEEP: Tell me about the two of you. What have you done for a living, for example?

MINARCINE: We are both retired airline pilots. My original career was in health care. I went to nursing school because I was an 18-year-old commercial pilot and flight instructor and couldn't get a job. Airlines were only hiring people coming home from Vietnam, which excluded women. So I had a great career in health care. I retired when I was 43.

I started a flight school and was very successful with that, and then got a job with NetJets Aviation. And I flew for NetJets until I retired again, when Bob and I got married. He's a retired Delta pilot and one of those people who served in the Air Force and went from Air Force to Delta.

INSKEEP: I guess we should remind people, Delta's main hub is right there, not too far from Macon, in Atlanta, right?

MINARCINE: That's right. Now I teach online. I teach strategic planning and entrepreneurship.

INSKEEP: Wow, so you have worked for big companies. You have run your own business. You've done a lot of things in your life.

MINARCINE: I sure have.

INSKEEP: So what concerns do you see when you look around your community right now?

MINARCINE: I am concerned about education, economics. I'm concerned about social justice.

INSKEEP: When you say social justice, I'm immediately thinking of news events, like the news of a police shooting and unrest in Charlotte in recent days. Is that what you're thinking of?

MINARCINE: Yes, I am. I went to nursing school in Charlotte. And it breaks my heart. I have family members who have served in law enforcement. And I totally understand the Black Lives Matter.

I look at our prison system, and I look at our prison population and how it's predominantly black. I look at the sentencing disparities, and that concerns me. So it's an overall concern.

INSKEEP: You know, I was looking up Macon and saw that it's a majority black city, the population.


INSKEEP: And I presume it's majority white suburbs surrounding it, is that right?

MINARCINE: That's right.

INSKEEP: Is that by chance?

MINARCINE: Probably not. I think you would see the same thing outside of Atlanta in Fayette County and Coweta County. I think, probably, the whole state of Georgia saw a lot of white flight in the '80s - '70s, '80s.

INSKEEP: Are you in a white-flight suburb? Is that what you're in?

MINARCINE: No. One of the reasons why we chose this neighborhood was because we did see people who looked different from us. We liked the fact that this is transitioning.

INSKEEP: OK. So this is happening, as I understand it, to the whole state of Georgia. It is becoming a much more diverse state. Where are some places that people are from?

MINARCINE: Our next-door neighbors are Korean. We have Chinese neighbors, as well, in this area.

INSKEEP: And you have African-American families. There's - there's all races represented, as far as you can tell, in the neighborhood there.


INSKEEP: What have you thought about the racial dialogue, if I can call it that, in the presidential race in this year, given your concern for social justice?

MINARCINE: I have found it sickening. I think there's been a lot of race baiting. This is the first political season where I've been uncomfortable having my grandchildren watch one candidate. OK, watch Donald Trump, in particular.

I think there's been race baiting. I think there's been a lot of hatred that's been spewed. And am I allowed to say that I think Trump has presented his stance from a hateful position?

INSKEEP: You're allowed to say whatever you want.

MINARCINE: And I agree that - OK, immigration is a concern. But do we build a wall? No, we don't build a wall. Do we register Muslims? No, we don't register Muslims. To me, that's reminiscent of World War II. I think that's all wrong.

INSKEEP: It doesn't sound like you're really eager to vote for Donald Trump in November.

MINARCINE: I will vote for Hillary. I have given a lot of thought to Gary Johnson, of course, like a lot of people. But Hillary has a track record of service. She did a lot of good when she was senator in New York. She accomplished a great deal as secretary of state. I think she's our best candidate.

INSKEEP: Is that a reluctant vote, as some people will say, about Hillary Clinton? Or have you gotten to a place where you're enthused?

MINARCINE: I wouldn't call myself enthused, but I'm ready to vote for Hillary.

INSKEEP: How do you feel about the direction of the country right now?

MINARCINE: I feel like it bothers me that we still have so much opposition to President Obama, which I think a great deal is related to skin color. It it bothers me that we have the divides that we have.

We are not a united nation. We're not as strong as we have been in the past. I would like to see a more unifying message. Somehow, we've got to cross the divide. And somehow, we've got to work together.

INSKEEP: She's Suzanne Minarcine, outside Macon, Ga., one of several Georgia voters we're hearing this morning in divided states - very different voters, by the way. We heard a Trump supporter earlier. They will be watching tonight's presidential debate. And tomorrow, we will bring them all back together to talk about it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: September 26, 2016 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous headline and Web summary on this story misspelled Suzanne Menarcine's name as Suzanna.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Grant came to public media after a career spent in newspaper photojournalism. As an all platform journalist he seeks to wed the values of public radio storytelling and the best of photojournalism online.