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Optimism, enthusiasm: Stark County says about Trump's first 100 days.

By Jessica Holbrook GateHouse Ohio Media Published: April 26, 2017 3:52 PM
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JACKSON TWP.  Tuesday night, Fox News asked Stark County to speak its mind about President Donald Trump's first 96 days in office.

The network hosted a live town hall forum at Stolle Machinery for its "First 100 Days" series. The broadcast, which drew about 250 audience members, asked for opinions on manufacturing, jobs and the economy, the president's foreign policy decisions and media coverage.

Stark County voters overwhelmingly supported Trump in the 2016 election, despite going for President Barack Obama in 2012, host Martha MacCallum said. "Three months in now with the new administration, are voters happy with what they're seeing from President Trump?"

Based on the crowd Tuesday, the answer is yes. Nearly everyone raised a hand when MacCallum asked who strongly supported the president's actions during the first 100 days.

MacCallum switched between direct questions to specific audience members and seeking more general opinions from the audience. She asked Stolle executives specifically if they had noticed any changes.

"I would say optimism. Excitement. More so than ever before. We're seeing more people looking toward manufacturing inside the country than outside the country," replied Michael Raderchak, vice president of global solutions for Stolle. "That excitement and optimism is starting to grow. And in the past eight years, we didn't see that as much."

MacCallum was joined by former Ohio Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, Ohio-native and Trump's former Labor Secretary Andy Puzder and Stark County's Jane Timken, the Ohio Republican Party chairwoman.

The forum focused mainly on the economy and related topics but veered into other areas. MacCallum asked if the audience believed media reports that Trump was an unpopular president and how people felt about the president's use of hyperbole and exaggeration.

"We call those things hyperboles, but ever since I've been a child, those have been called lies," said Colin Louis, president of the Greater Stark County Urban League. "I believe that as the president, he just needs to say what he plans to do, execute what he plans to do, not give us hope and dreams and big smoke and mirrors" and then say he didn't mean it.

Tuesday's town hall was the third for the program — others were held in Florida and South Carolina — and the only one held in a factory.

Stolle officials said they were contacted several weeks ago about hosting the program. The company manufactures machinery for the global can-making industry and employs roughly 130 people.

The invite-only event was not open to the public. Those who attended were asked to fill out a survey in advance with questions about demographics and political leanings. Participants included Stark County residents, area political and community leaders, business owners, Stolle employees and  Hoover High School students.

"The first 100 Days seems to be, here, good," said Karen Bush of Homeworth.

Bush's brother, a Stolle employee, invited her to attend. Bush voted for Trump in November and said she continues to support him as president.

"I voted for him. I love him. I think we need somebody there who is going to... take some action." she said.

Not everyone Tuesday night was a fan of President Trump.

Jeanette Coleridge and her fiance, Dave Wheeler, didn't support the president for "several reasons," Coleridge said, prior to the broadcast.

They attended Tuesday to experience different perspectives.

"Sometimes, you only see one side of things. At a venue like this, you get to hear first-hand what others are thinking and feeling," Coleridge said.

The North Canton couple also wanted to make sure that young people had a presence at the forum.

"It's important that our generation is present at these things," said 27-year-old Coleridge.

"We share things on Facebook, but we don't actually attend things," Wheeler, 30, added.

Wheeler didn't hesitate to make his voice heard during the forum. When Puzder said that Trump didn't want to go to war, Wheeler shouted out, "That's not true."


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