Local Trump supporters optimistic about new presidency

  • Forest of Northampton leads a group in Northampton in taking an oath of "Citizen" at noon during the same time Donald Trump took the oath of office. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Tracey Johnson of Granby, talks about her reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump at The Egg And I. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bill Schenker, of South Hadley, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bill and Tracey Johnson of Granby talk about the inauguration of President  Donald Trump at The Egg And I in South Hadley. Below, a woman by the single name of Forest, of Northampton, leads a group in Northampton taking an oath of “Citizen” at noon, the same time Trump took the oath as president. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS PHOTOS

  • James Roule, of Holyoke now but originally from South Hadley, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President Donald Trump at The Egg And I. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Bill Schenker, of South Hadley, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A group met in Northampton to take an oath of "Citizen" at noon during the same time Donald Trump took the oath of office. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • left Dave Walker of New Hampshire now but originally from South Hadley, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump at The Egg And I. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • left Dave Walker of New Hampshire now but originally from South Hadley, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump at The Egg And I. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Roule, of Holyoke now but originally from South Hadley, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President Donald Trump at The Egg And I. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Forest talk about her reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • James Roule, a South Hadley native who lives in Holyoke, and Dave Walker, a South Hadley native from New Hampshire, talk about the inauguration of President Donald Trump at The Egg And I in South Hadley Friday morning. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Mike LaFlamme, of Granby, talks about his reaction to the inauguration of President  Donald Trump at the Earlee Mug in Granby. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Rae Joniec, of Granby, talks about her reaction to the inauguration of President Donald Trump at the Earlee Mug in Granby. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2017 3:14:59 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — As the inauguration of Donald Trump concluded early Friday afternoon, those Valley residents who supported his election are confident that he will be able to improve the national economy, reduce regulatory burdens and government spending, strengthen the country’s defense and put America’s interests first on the world stage.

“He’s been our president for 15 minutes and I already feel great,” said Jim Roule, a South Hadley native who lives in Holyoke.  “I feel like a year from today we’ll be better off.”

Eating lunch at The Egg and I restaurant in South Hadley, Roule said Trump’s message of protecting American jobs and businesses, which he referenced in his inauguration address, continues to resonate with him.

Roule was joined for lunch by Dave Walker, who also grew up in South Hadley but now makes his home in Alstead, New Hampshire. Walker, too, was happy that Trump was sworn into office.

“It means bringing some prosperity back to the country and bringing businesses back, because if we don't have businesses, we can’t survive,” Walker said.

Tracey Johnson of Granby, who was finishing coffee at the neighboring The Roost in South Hadley before heading back to work, said she was excited by Friday’s events featuring Trump.

“I was so proud of him this morning, and his wife,” Johnson said. “It looked wonderful. I wish I was there.”

Johnson said she voted for Trump, in part, because no one owns him. 

Her husband, Bill Johnson, said he was troubled by President Obama’s increasing regulations, while setting back race relations.

"I am so sick of a president who kowtows to every single diverse group," Johnson said

"I wish him and his family well, but I'm glad to see him out of office after eight years," Johnson added.

A Trump supporter who missed seeing the inauguration was Mike LaFlamme, of Granby. But he had a good excuse: he was in an orchard at Dickinson Farm pruning apple trees, before arriving for lunch at the Earlee Mug in Granby.

He looks forward to the next four years.

“I think we’re headed for better times,” LaFlamme said. “I’m hoping he does good for the country; it’s time for a change.”

Earlee Mug waitress Rae Joniec said she wants Trump to be a good president.

“I just hope he does a great job,” Joniec said, adding that her job at the eatery kept her from watching the inauguration ceremony.

Alexandria Moynihan, chairwoman of the Easthampton Republican Committee, said in a phone interview that she watched part of the inauguration, calling it “beautiful and heartwarming” and representing the best of the United States and the peaceful transfer of power every four or eight years.

For the ‘forgotten’

Trump’s speech, she said, hit on the themes she wanted included.

“He was really for the forgotten men and the forgotten women, and that’s what I kept hearing,” Moynihan said.

Like others Trump supporters, Moynihan cited the need to improve the business climate and end onerous regulations that she argues have hurt entrepreneurs. Being a businessman, Trump understands that people need to be given more freedom from government, she said.

Joe Tarantino, chairman of the Northampton Republican Town Committee, said he doesn’t know what to expect of a Trump presidency, but anticipates it will be better than what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would have offered, and that the country deserved Trump as a legacy of Obama.

The inauguration speech, Tarantino said, focused on returning power to the people, and he believes Trump is committed to that objective.

“I think he really means that,” Tarantino said, noting that career bureaucrats could lose their jobs as efficiencies are put in place and departments are eliminated. “It’s such a target-rich environment to show what business acumen can do.”

Other residents protest

Others in Hampshire County, though, weren’t so thrilled by the country’s new president on Inauguration Day.

On the steps of Northampton City Hall, an event called the Inauguration Day for Citizens coincided with Trump’s inauguration, with a handful of people reciting a pledge to uphold the Constitution and promote freedom, justice, unity and peace.

Billy Park of Northampton said reciting the pledge is a way to empower the nearly 3 million people who feel disenfranchised that the popular vote was won by Clinton.

“I think this is very important,” Park said. “I have two kids myself, and they’re feeling really upset.”

The brief protest, and others, are ways to begin the healing, according to participants at the Northampton event.

“We’ve got to come together as a country, and this is an extension of that,” Park said. “There are too many emojis and smiley faces, and not enough coming together.”

A Northampton woman who goes by the single name of Forest, a civil rights activist in Mississippi 50 years ago, passed out the sheets on which the brief pledge was printed. Such events can bring solidarity to those who oppose Trump, she said.

“For me there’s a lot of fear being engendered. This is about how to bring hope and another perspective in this time.” Forest said.

Bryan Torres, a student at Amherst College who is among undocumented immigrants through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, said in an email that he appreciates that people are already protesting someone who he views as racist, xenophobic and a misogynist.

“I am glad people all over the United States are uniting and protesting against him becoming the next president and against his offensive rhetoric,” Torrres said.

Torres said both the idea of building a wall, and deporting undocumented immigrants, are not only unrealistic, but would hurt the country’s economy and workforce.

He said most undocumented immigrants pay taxes, and that there are many companies that depend on undocumented immigrant labor.

Unite behind Trump

While Moynihan said people are entitled to protest, she’s puzzled at what is motivating them to do this, rather than uniting behind Trump.

“It makes me sad that people say they are scared,” Moynihan said, observing that she believes people should be more frightened about a government that continues to run up large annual deficits rather than getting its financial house in order.

Tarantino said the protests, like the members of Congress who boycotted the inauguration, will benefit Trump.

“These protests are doing Trump a favor, they are the swamp gas that shows the swamp needs to be drained,” Tarantino said, referencing an oft-repeated Trump campaign rhetoric about how he will change Washington.

Mike Koske of South Hadley, a retired fire chief, said he would like to see people get behind Trump, for whom he voted as part of what he describes as the silent majority. “The country has been too divided for too long,” Koske said.

Roule said it’s unfair for people to protest against Trump. “How can you criticize someone before he’s given a chance?” Roule asked.

Bill Schenker, a retired South Hadley police chief, said he didn’t vote for Trump, and has had lively debates with Koske and others at The Egg and I. Still, he said people should have a wait-and-see approach.

“We’ve got to come together for the good of the country,” Schenker said.

“Either he’s going to put his foot in it, or not,” Schenker said “I hope he’s a success.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.




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