At Tower Grove Christian Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, Donna Kohlberg said she is disgusted with the election, namely the behavior of both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Still, the teacher, assistant principal and volleyball coach plans to watch the presidential debate — which takes place Sunday in St. Louis — in hopes of hearing more about issues like Trump University, Clinton’s actions in Benghazi, and the candidates' plans for how they would change the economy.
Though, Kohlberg’s top issue is abortion, and she’s reluctantly leaning towards Trump, there's another issue she said is on the minds of local voters: jobs.
"I think jobs are very important to the region, the area," she said after wrapping up volleyball practice on a school night. "How are we going to get more jobs into St. Louis? What are we going to do to draw businesses here?"
E. Terrence Jones, a political science professor at the University of Missouri, said the region has lost a lot of manufacturing jobs over the years.
"We are more of an industrial mid-western state," he said. "More like an Ohio or Pennsylvania than we are like a Colorado or a Texas. And so, the issues about jobs and how people with lower levels of education are faring in our economy and income inequality are very relevant in St. Louis."
That income inequality ties into another topic likely to come up in the debate — the continuing racial issues in the city and country that still put people on edge.
"The racial divide shows up on all indicators," Jones said. "Both economic and non-economic. Health, infant mortality — as well as poverty and unemployment rates."
Andrew Wilson spoke to Marketplace while picking up his elementary school-aged daughter from Tower Grove. He's a cop in St. Louis, and said he definitely wants to hear the candidates talk about race. He's black and still an undecided voter. He wanted to know how the candidates plan to heal community relations. Like many of the parents at this private Christian school, he said he plans to approach his decision with prayer.
"Even beyond just being a police officer, I'm a Christian," said Wilson. "And I believe that what this country needs is God back in government and schools."
Across the parking lot, pilot Micah Maupin was picking up a couple of his 12 kids. He said he won’t vote for Clinton, but he isn’t sold on Trump either. Big issues for him include what he sees as over-regulation of small businesses and taxes.
"You know, every time I look at [my paycheck], it's like my take-home pay decreases because the taxes increased, or something else increases ... And I don't have more," Maupin said. "I've got 12 kids to take care of."
He said he's looking into third party candidates, but is worried about “throwing away” his vote. Regardless, he said he's resigned to the idea that neither of the main candidates will do much for his family.
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