Today I have an interview with Tiffany, a Mom who runs a personal chef and catering business in Wasilla, Alaska, the city formerly led by now-Governor Sarah Palin. Tiffany shares her thoughts as a Mom, a Wasilla resident, and a voter.
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Tell us about yourself. I'm Tiffany, I have two daughters, Kaitlyn will be 18 on Halloween (she is currently living in Pennsylvania with her dad and step-mother, she has been there for almost 3 years.) Grace is 8 and in the 3rd grade. We live in Wasilla, Alaska and have been here since 1998. I was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and try to get back there as often as I can.
What do you do for a living? Currently I am the owner of Tiffany's: The Chef in Your Kitchen. I am a rather new business. I am a personal/private Chef, and I also offer catering and cooking lessons to children and adults. When business is slow, I am a Substitute Teacher for the Mat-Su Borough School District. I take whatever substitute positions I can get, this allows me be closer to my daughter and be active with her experience in grade school.
What is your involvement in politics? Is it different in this election, and if so, why? My personal involvement in the past was as President of my College Student Government. I was a member of the Alaska Coalition of Student leaders, and visited the State Capitol as an unpaid lobbyist for full funding of the State University System.
I have not gotten involved in election campaigns before. I have been paying more attention since 9/11. This time I am much more interested due the economy and the Iraq War/Terrorism issue.
I am conservative, although, I do not consider myself "far right." This election I signed up as a McCain volunteer and made a donation while Gov. Sarah Palin was still on the stage giving her speech. There is a local McCain-Palin office opening this week and I plan to work for them in any way needed.
Why did you decide to support McCain for President? I was already planning to vote for McCain , mainly based on his plans to increase energy independence. I am an Alaskan, energy is always at the top of our minds and it effects my family directly; oil is the largest part of the economy here. I also feel strongly that John McCain is the best choice for the security of our Country.
Does the choice of Governor Palin as a running mate impact your involvement? Oh Yes! My husband came into the room and woke me up that morning saying "guess who John McCain's pick for VP is ?" I couldn't have guessed at that time because the list I knew of all of the possibilities seem to run together. When he mentioned Gov. Palin I bolted out of bed and I have been excited and optimistic ever since. I called my mother in Pennsylvania, my cousin, sent e-mails to family members and friends. I even had a friend here in Wasilla call me screaming. She kept yelling "you were right! you were right!" I mentioned to her just the day before that I thought the VP pick was going to be the sound in the election. I have much respect for John McCain and trust he is the best choice for President of our Country but I just had a strange feeling about the VP pick. We did donate money, we ordered McCain-Palin gear, signs, etc. and we signed up right away as volunteers.
In your view, tell us about what Wasilla thinks of Palin's leadership. Were you around when she was mayor? What was that like? Well, I would say that Wasilla and all of Alaska loves Gov. Palin. As Governor, she really shook up some entrenched politicians and reminded us that the power of the government comes from the people, not big business or the "good old boy" politicians. She has actually gotten the natural gas line to move forward. This is bigger than it sounds, it is going to be the largest privately funded contruction project in history and supply a LOT of natural gas to the rest of the country, not to mention the economic boom for Alaska.
Before she became Govenor she was known for turning in the Republican Party of Alaska Chairman on an ethics charge of lobbying while he was on the state payroll. After she got in office, she balanced the state budget, and actually ended up with a large surplus. She has also been much more available and visible to the state overall than any other Govenor. Most of them hide out down in Juneau, the Capitol, which by the way has no roads to the rest of the state and is a 700 mile flight from Anchorage.
I was around in Wasilla when she was Mayor. To be honest, it was almost transparent to me because I hardly noticed. Everything just worked. The police were good, garbage collection, snow removal (a big problem sometimes), it all just hummed along. The only real complaint from that time was that Wasilla was growing too much, getting crowded. We like that small town feel. We literally had 20% growth per year during her time as Mayor. If I remember correctly the Mat-Su Valley grows about 5% each year. We now have all the big box stores, new restaurants, roads are 2 lanes with a couple of stop lights to 4 lanes with too many lights.
There have been some criticisms of her from locals, their motives have been questioned. What are your thoughts? As for criticisms from locals that made it on the Internet -- some of them are not only false, but obviously not written by anyone who lives in Wasilla, or even Alaska. A couple are locals, one of the first, by Anne Kilkenny, is her opinion. I worked with her during a PTA project years ago. She sort of stands out for her strong Democratic Party support from what I have seen. She has also totally flip-flopped from her complaints about Sales Tax vs. Property Taxes. My husband pulled up the minutes of a Borough Assembly Meeting where Anne Kilkenny was the sole voice *advocating* a borough-wide sales Tax. As for her and the way she acts in person, let's just say she wants to be the Chief not the Indian.
What do you think about the media coverage of Governor Palin and her family?
Well, I think most of it is disgusting, but I expected nothing less when everyone thinks the Internet and media contain nothing but the truth (or at least the truth they want to hear). Most of the smears are unfair and sexist, but I think that the far-left liberals are in a panic because Gov. Palin is walking proof that many of their ideas are not what most of the Country believes in.
We started having investigators all over Wasilla within 24 hours of the announcement. I saw a denial on T.V., saying "they would stand out in a small town in Wasilla," Well...that is true, they ARE standing out like sore thumbs. It would be like me describing life in New York. I've read about it, but I could not write a story that a New Yorker would agree with or wouldn't spot instantly.
What would you say to undecided voters about the McCain-Palin ticket? The only thing I can begin to say is think, do your research but do these things as responsible Americans. Look at both sides, read between the lines. Watch them, read about them and constantly check yourself at the door. Make sure it isn't one single factor that has your vote. Make sure it is real life that gets your vote. Talk - do not yell. Help people understand your side, but understand their side as well. All of this back-biting and yelling is not the way to do things. Especially in America. Come on people, wake up!!
Wake up with a brand new day, take a deep breath, let it all out and start fresh on your new day perspective. Watch and listen to both sides of the line and listen to those in the middle. It seems like we spend so much time fighting against each other about everything we forget who we are and where we have come from. Let us not forget, let us all work together as one!