Hispanic supporter of Donald Trump in Sunderland says he was ‘persecuted’ because of his political signs



Last modified: Friday, February 05, 2016

SUNDERLAND — Calling himself a “lonely soldier,” George Vazquez says he is one of the few vocal supporters of Donald Trump in the region, but he knows many more will vote for the presidential candidate across the country.

Vazquez has four Trump signs on his front lawn on Route 116 near the Amherst line, and said he was nearly forced to take them down when police came to his house claiming he had violated town bylaws.

“I have been persecuted. The Police Department has come here, come into my house, raided my house and stood in my kitchen,” Vazquez said. “I had Trump signs on my lawn and a sergeant from Sunderland threatened to arrest me.”

Police Sgt. Brendan Lyons said he did go to Vazquez’s home in September after getting a complaint from another person who lived in the house. The person said Vazquez was breaking town bylaws stating residential properties could not have more than one sign and that political signs could not be on the property for more than 30 days.

Vazquez said it was his First Amendment right to place the political signs on the property and said calls to remove them were reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

“I’m a Puerto Rican man in a small town and they are trying to intimidate me,” he said.

Lyons said he did not arrest Vazquez and referred the person who complained about the signs to the town’s building department, which handles enforcement of local zoning bylaws. The signs remain on the property.

Trump, a Manhattan real estate mogul, has shaken up the Republican presidential contest with unorthodox campaign strategies, relying on strong media coverage rather than a ground game and traditional political ads, as well as expressing controversial positions, such as building a wall between the United States and Mexico, and halting immigration of Muslims into the United States.

Trump is someone who will bring skills as a businessman and a respect for law and order to Washington, Vazquez said.

“He’s the only one who has done anything; he’s the only one who has built anything,” Vazquez said. “Other candidates haven’t run a candy store.”

Trump’s speech announcing his candidacy in June, during which he said Mexico sent drugs, criminals and rapists to America, has offended many people of Hispanic heritage. But Vazquez said he is Hispanic, of Puerto Rican heritage, and his support for Trump is unwavering.

He said everyone, regardless of race, would prosper under a Trump presidency.

“He’s a problem-solver, an innovator,” Vazquez said. “He finds faults and will fix them and make them right, and he will do it for a good dollar value.”

Regarding Trump’s second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Vazquez said it was impressive for someone who is not an experienced politician.

“It wasn’t a loss. It was a victory for a man who is not a political player,” he said.

Vazquez said he believes Trump would go on to do better in upcoming contests.

“In New Hampshire on Feb. 9, in South Carolina, you’re going to see people are invigorated,” Vazquez said. “You’ll see a lot of people vote that haven’t voted in the past.”

This week, Vazquez has been to multiple rallies in New Hampshire featuring Trump. He said he likes how Trump supports veterans. Vazquez said his brother and father were veterans.

He also likes Trump’s stands on national security, the economy, trade and his liberal policy around universal health care.

“We do need a universal health care system and my man Donald Trump is going to provide it for us,” Vazquez said. “He is going to expand it and make it better.”

Vazquez said he knows that Trump has been vague on details, but attributed that to his management style.

Joe Ranker owns the house two doors down from Vazquez, and said he noticed the signs go up several months ago.

“I don’t like Trump,” Ranker said at his home Thursday. “I spent most of my life in the New York metro area so I know he’s not a good man.”

Ranker said Trump is not a smart person and that he is not in control of himself. He said Trump is prone to “outbursts” and “temper tantrums.”

“Like, ‘I can’t get rid of the reporter I don’t like so I’m not showing up to the debate,’ ” Ranker said, referring to Trump’s decision to skip a Fox News debate Jan. 28 moderated in part by Megyn Kelly. Trump previously sparred with Kelly over social media and he called her biased against him.

Ranker said he has not seen any other Trump signs in the area. When he tells friends where he lives, some people ask “You’re not the Trump guy, are you?” Ranker said.

Ranker said the Republican Party has moved so far to the right that it has provided an opening for Trump.

“I try not to think about it, but I see it every day,” he said.

Ranker said he supports Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders for president.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@gazettenet.com.


 

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