Unemployment, economy at the top

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – At Tuesday night’s trivia competition at Romie’s BBQ, the contestants were sure about answers to questions about fashion, action movies, presidents and bands with siblings.
Over barbecue and drinks, nurses, business owners, theater directors and lawyers, among others, debated the answers to questions like, “What was the name of the bar in ‘Road House’?” “Who was president during the Tupelo tornado in 1936?” and “What designer has designed wedding gowns for Chelsea Clinton and Mariah Carey?”
On the topic of politics and the upcoming election, some were more sure than others. But the economy and unemployment were the biggest issues that will shape the decisions they’ll make in the voting booth, they said.
“We’ve got to fix this unemployment problem,” said trivia host Brian Baldwin. “We’re at the tipping point in the country. We could prosper, you know, if we learn from our past mistakes.”
Baldwin, 29, of Pontotoc, said he’s still undecided, but he watched parts of both conventions and is paying attention to the news to make his best judgment.
For others at trivia, the economy was a personal issue.
“The economy, in one word, and that means jobs. It means how I feel about my situation now – am I good with where I am now or can I get better?” said trivia contestant Julianne Goodwin, 51, of Tupelo.
She and her husband are business owners, so how President Obama’s health care act will affect them is a big issue.
Reid Flowers is the son of a principal and teacher, and as an aspiring teacher, the economy and education are his two biggest concerns. He is substitute teaching now until he can find a permanent teaching job.
“I grew up in education,” Flowers, a Pontotoc native, said. “The pay doesn’t reflect the hours put in, and what would be done to fix that?”
Trivia contestant Chelsea Roberson wants to know what the candidates will do for her, the voter. The 22-year-old from Tupelo has friends in the military and is concerned about the candidates’ plans for the troops. The deficit is another big issue for her. Though she said she’s voting for Romney, she said neither candidate has truly told her what they can do to improve her life.
“It seems like it’s a popularity contest. It’s like, ‘I have more Twitter followers than you.’ But how’s that going to fix the country?” she said. “It’s important to me. I live here. I’m not going anywhere else.”
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com