PRESIDENT OBAMA VISITS ASBURY PARK: WHAT WOULD YOUR NEIGHBORS SAY TO HIM?
What a once-in-a-lifetime exciting day Tuesday was. Standing in line for hours, my friend Jen and I watched the raindrops fall on a wonderful, peaceful group of beautiful diversity. Some came to cheer Governor Christie, most came to hear President Obama speak.
And speak he did, putting the national spotlight on the Jersey Shore. An hour after his call-to-action speech, our beloved shoreline was all over the national news – from MSNBC to Fox News to the Huffington Post.
“Down the shore everything is always all right,” said President Obama. “The shore has a special place in America’s heart. There are more good times to be had here right now – come and have some fun like I did earlier.”
President Obama’s visit was the first time a sitting president came to Asbury Park since President Harding, according to the Queen of our city’s history and author Helen Chantal-Pike. Regardless of individual’s self-identified Democratic or Republican affiliation (and there were lots of both), locals were thrilled to participate in a historical moment for the city they love.
He was in and out of Asbury Park in thirty minutes, after meeting local business owners including Michael Pimco, the owner of Style Rocket – who led the Pledge of Allegiance – and Russell Lewis, co-owner of Watermark Lounge. Later, I asked attendees of the ceremony what they would say to the Leader of the Free World if they had three minutes of his attention. The comments may surprise you. [more below]
Trish Zanellato and her son Alex, Asbury Park: “First, I would tell him how great it was to see him with the Governor. Then I would just thank him for coming to our boardwalk to promote the shore. People do not realize businesses are open. I think he did a great thing today. It was great to see him standing on the same boardwalk I walk on every day.”
Troy Teeboom, Asbury Park: “I would say thank you for coming back to support the coast at the kick-off of summer. As well, thank him for supporting gay marriage and for trying to do something about wealth inequity in this country – gotta go after the 1 percent. Also, I would ask him to place pressure on congress to fix the inequality.”
Diana Ervin, area resident: “Union Beach and other small cities here need his attention too. He cannot forget the small places.”
Gerard Yosca, Ocean Grove: “America and it’s economy was built by entrepreneurs willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever work was necessary to fulfill their vision. It seems as if large corporations receive more than their fair share of tax breaks and incentives. Is it possible to level the playing field so that there is a climate in which small businesses can grow? Also, that it is wonderful we have a president who recognizes the humanity of a person and not the political party.”
Jennifer Thomas, Ocean Grove: “I would ask him to push through legislation requiring all food that is GMO to be labeled that way. I would also ask him why he is giving Monsanto a huge pass.”
Jen Zarcone, West Allenhurst: “Big fan. Love your work. But I have been continually baffled by your administration’s agricultural policies which continue to support big agriculture at the expense of real farmers, the environment and the health of Americans. Last month you signed H.R. 933, which contained the Monsanto Protection Act, into law. Why would you knowingly sign the Monsanto Protection Act over the urgent pleas of more than 250,000 Americans who asked that he use his executive authority to veto it? Why have you continued to appoint Monsanto employees to the USDA and the Department of Agricultural Affairs? Why do you allow this massive bio-technology company have so much influence over what we as Americans eat?”
Edward O’Donnell, Philadelphia: “Great job with all the issues in the polarized environment he is working in. The support and aid he is giving means a lot but it means just as much for him to come here and tell the world the shore is open for business. I think he talks the talk and walks the walk.”
Ken Tyburski, Asbury Park: “Has Michelle been the driving force of your changing stance on gay marriage? Do you think you have done enough to show the Supreme Court your approval or are there things that have not been made public that you have done to support gay marriage?”
Carl Chesna, Avon: “I would tell him to stop the Keystone Pipeline. I would also thank him for coming here and giving hope to Asbury Park’s youth and that it is a good example for the future to see him and Governor Christie – both parties coming together to help with important issues.”
Felix Torres, Bradley Beach: “It was so great to see the two parties coming together. I would tell him to keep working and trying with the Republicans. I am tired of people blaming only the Democrats or only the Republicans for their problems. Change for this country takes years and is everybody’s win and everybody’s fault.”
Kerri Thomason, Mendham: “Knowing me, I would get too nervous and say nothing but think of something good ten minutes later. He is magic to me and I am so proud of him, his work and this country. Sometimes being the Leader of the Free World is a lonely job, despite the mobs that come to see him like today.”