Editor’s Note: Another in a weekly series on what Mainers across the state say about the race for the White House — and what they want from the next president.
CARRABASSETT VALLEY – John Beaupre’s happy personality and friendly nature ooze from his very being as he talks about his lucky life in this mountain town.
He has been a town selectman for 13 years, but he might as well be the King of Carrabassett Valley. In a community known for its laid-back attitude, this place seems to orbit around him and his quest for a good time.
He goes to Super Bowls, golfs with the greats and is buds with Olympic hero Seth Wescott. On a good night, you can almost hear his laugh echo from Stratton to Kingfield.
These days, the whole political world orbits around him, too. Beaupre, 51, remains undecided in the presidential election.
All those ads on TV? All the debates? He’s the target.
“I am going to vote. Of course. I think it’s important. United States residents should be voting,” Beaupre said last week, taking a break from stocking shelves at Ayotte’s convenience store on Route 27, one of four stores in the valley that he co-owns. “I just don’t know who I am going to vote for. I am Republican-leaning, because of small business. But I haven’t made the final decision.”
Beaupre has watched all the debates and done quite a bit of reading and research into both major-party candidates. He likes elements of both.
His buddy Greg Roy fits that same profile. Roy owns a couple of businesses, including a cab company that takes people safely home from the bars at night and brings passengers up from the airport in Portland to the home of Sugarloaf Mountain Resort.
Just over a week before the election, he remains firmly undecided.
He’s less certain than Beaupre that he will bother to vote, but says, “I suppose I will.”
His decision will come down to one candidate’s leadership ability over the other’s. Roy is fed up with the stalemate between the parties and looks to the president to end the icy rift and provide momentum on important issues.
He’s disappointed that President Obama has not bridged that divide, for whatever reasons. But he’s not convinced that Mitt Romney is up for the job.
“We need to get this Congress going, whatever it takes,” Roy said, wishing an old-school leader like George Mitchell was still in politics.
Roy and Beaupre both grew up in Waterville idolizing that city’s native son, Mitchell, whom Roy called “the great compromiser.”
Both voted in the last presidential election. Beaupre voted for Obama, and Roy voted for John McCain.
Roy is a veteran and cast his support behind McCain because of the Arizona senator’s military service. Beaupre voted for Obama because he liked his message and believed Obama would be an agent for change.
But after four years in a tough economy, Beaupre isn’t sure he can vote for Obama again. The businessman in him is leaning toward Romney, he said, but he is genuinely torn because he likes Obama.
“I am a Republican-leaning kind of guy, but I’m having trouble checking the box, so to speak,” he said. “My dad and I went out to lunch the other day. My dad said, ‘If I could check none of the above, I would.”‘
That’s pretty much how Beaupre feels. He will vote, but without much enthusiasm.
If Roy votes, he is leaning toward Obama. But he hardly sounds enthusiastic about it.
Down the road at CSM Real Estate, the owner, Bob Peruffo, has made up his mind. He is voting for Obama. He doesn’t like to advertise his political views with yard signs and big pronouncements. As a small-business owner, he prefers keeping his politics quiet.
But he’s not shy about his feelings, when asked.
“I’m a huge Obama supporter,” said Peruffo, who worked as a builder before getting into real estate with his wife in 2008.
They have seen home sales plummet by about half in recent years, but he doesn’t believe in Romney’s solution for the country’s economic problems.
“I’m not a believer in the trickle-down theory of the Republican Party,” he said. “In my previous career as a builder, I built for an affluent clientele, and some people might say that’s trickle down. But to me, it really wasn’t. They were just satisfying their own lavish lifestyles.”
He’s fairly confident the economy is on its way back, and believes that Obama’s policies have helped the recovery. He thinks the president deserves another term to give his policies more time.
He believes that most people in this town feel similarly. Recent history suggests his assessment is accurate. Obama outpolled McCain 2-to-1 in Carrabassett Valley in 2008. Across Franklin County, Obama won easily.
Regardless of the outcome, the one thing these guys agree on is that they will support the winner, and hope he can move the country forward out of the current political stagnation.
“I will support whichever man is elected, because they’re our president. But it appears to me that there is a certain percentage of people, they don’t respect that notion,” Peruffo said. “It is the duty of the American citizens to support the president.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: