City Island Undecided as Election Nears

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Kathanna Knapp, who grew up in the neighborhood, says,

Photo by: Emily Field

Kathanna Knapp, who grew up in the neighborhood, says, “City Island is a neighborhood unto itself. We've got as many liberals here as anywhere else.”

President Obama won the Bronx by a landslide in 2008— except for City Island, a historic seaside neighborhood in the borough where more than half voted for Sen. John McCain.

Elliott Glick, owner of the Starving Artist Café on City Island, said he believes the island tends to be more conservative than the rest of the Bronx, though he doesn’t know exactly why. “City Island doesn’t want to change,” he said. “They love their past here.”

Glick, 63, said he considers himself a progressive. He voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to vote for him again in November. “It was the first time I voted for somebody, instead of against somebody,” Glick said.

Other residents, however, weren’t so sure about City Island’s political makeup.

Joe Pontecorvo, 48, a third generation City Islander, said, “It’s changed over the years. It used to be more conservative, and the older generation is more conservative.”

Dennis Heiman, 55, said “I would say it’s probably more Democrat, since there’s a lot of union people here, civil servants, and they go mostly Democratic.” A retired union electrician, Heiman said he was still undecided.

His girlfriend, Sue O’Connor, 50, said she intended to vote for Obama. “I do like him, there’s a few issues, but I’m still a Democrat in my heart.”

Kathanna Knapp, 58, said, “City Island is a neighborhood unto itself. We’ve got as many liberals here as anywhere else.” Knapp grew up on City Island and moved back after spending 13 years in Putman County. She described herself as an alternative energy healer.

“I felt then four years ago that he didn’t have enough experience to run the country,” said Knapp, who voted for McCain in 2008. The GOP challenger got 56 percent of the vote on the island.

“He had only been a senator for two years, and before that it was sketchy what he’d been doing, where’d he been born, what his religion was.”

Joan Mamara, a retired administrative assistant, is still undecided. “I was going to vote for Obama, but a friend of mine said to me Romney loves America and Obama doesn’t,” she said. “I was pretty sure I was going to vote for him until he said that. Since I’m so patriotic, it made an impact on me.”

Mamara voted for Obama in 2008, and said that she was not disappointed in Obama. “Maybe that would be different if I were out of work,” she said.

Angela Papse, 32, said she was going to vote for Obama. “I’m a single mother of two, and everything he does is to benefit the middle and lower class,” she said. Papse tends bar at The Alehouse on City Island, and said that Obama’s reforms had helped her get financial aid for college.

Retired Teamster Robbo Seaman, 49, predicted that Obama will lose by six points on Nov. 6. “The terrorist in a three-thousand dollar suit is out in three weeks,” he said. “The guy who’s sitting in the White House, he’s a foreigner, he was not born here.”

President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother, Ann Dunham, was born in Wichita, Kan.

City Island was hit harder by Hurricane Sandy than just about anywhere else in the Bronx, so the storm’s impact on political sentiment and turnout adds an X factor to the mix on the island.

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