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Economy, healthcare, immigration top-of-mind for Stark Co. voters who pivoted from Obama to Trump

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 18:28:44-05

MASSILLON, Ohio — Nine counties across Ohio voted for President Trump after helping to elect President Obama.

Stark County helped Obama win the White House twice. It's nearly entirely white with 23 percent of residents holding a college degree. Many have watched their manufacturing jobs go overseas or to other parts of Ohio over the last 40 years.

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Massillon's new streetscape is helping pick up the downtown area, but Stark County residents still remember the hurt from decades of losing manufacturing jobs in the community.

Mark Kemp, who owns Tremont Coffee Co., says he wasn't surprised when his community went for President Trump in 2016.

"I think they were ready for a change," said Kemp. "I really do."

Kemp and his wife were just getting the business off the ground in their first Massillon location then.

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Mark says the coffee shop is generally considered neutral territory for politics, but most customers know the struggles Stark County has weathered over the years.

"In the 1970s and 80s, you struggled all through the 90s, places like this were decimated," said Kemp.

That left behind many manufacturing workers like James Spidell.

"The economy's the big thing," said Spidell when asked what's important to him when he decides on a candidate to support.

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"[Health Insurance] is just something that I want to have and that everyone could have," said Spidell. "I think everyone should have insurance."

Spidell has a job and despite concerns about Democrats' views on restricting gun rights, he's trying to find a Democrat to vote for.

"There hasn't been anyone that sticks out so far," said Spidell. "When I voted for Obama, I just knew who I was gonna pick."

Brayden Frascone says that indecision seems to be a common feeling around Stark County.

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"[Trump has] done some great things in office but I don't think, it's paying off for working people and I don't think it's paying off for people specifically in a county like Stark where people work hard," said Frascone.

"Actually, my Dad, he voted for Obama and then he voted for Trump and I think for some reason," said Franscone. "He really had a message that resonated with working people."

Heading into Ohio's Democratic Primary, Frascone is looking for someone who will unseat his dad's pick for President.

Frascone says he has a lot of student debt and the clock is ticking before he's kicked off his parent's health insurance.

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Tremont Coffee Company's new location is located in what appears to be an old garage. Kemp says it's his contribution to helping Massillon continue to get better.

Right now, he's split between Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

"I think that they are really listening to the people that need help the most," said Frascone.

Ryan Carrick is also worried about healthcare, but also immigration.

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"Not that I'm against immigrants at all," said Carrick. "Just come here legally and the issue with that is the way for them to get here legally is so difficult that it never happens for them."

He supports President Trump's effort to build a wall on the southern border and more restrictive immigration policies as a first step towards eventually making legal immigration at least a little bit easier.

"Stop the immigration and then go in and fix the process," said Carrick.

Carrick says he's still open to voting for a Democrat, but the last four years have been good to him.

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Residents say everyone knows about Massillon for its rich football history but that the city has so much more to offer to visitors, as long as they can get visitors to come in the first place.

He graduated from college, started his career, and voted for Trump more as a vote against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

"But [Democrats] have to give me a candidate that I think is going to do more than Trump's doing now," said Carrick.