As she walked through Lake Anne Plaza last Saturday afternoon, among campaign volunteers handing out political pamphlets and Bush/Cheney and Kerry/Edwards signs hang from windows overhead, Reston resident Sherrie Kinard said she is quite certain how she'll vote next Tuesday.
"I'm absolutely not supporting Bush," she said. "I rather despise him. I'm not really fond of Kerry either, but at least he's not Bush."
Kinard will be one of the more than 30,000 Reston residents expected to vote in next week's presidential election.
Last Saturday at Lake Anne, presidential politics was on just about everyone's mind. Out of almost two dozen interviews with Reston residents at the plaza — drinking coffee, feeding the ducks, milling among the arts and antiques market, or eating lunch out on the plaza — all said they plan on voting Tuesday.
Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians were out in force at the historic plaza, traditionally considered Reston's most-heavily Democratic stronghold.
"We are in Kerry-land here," said resident Valerie Thornton, as she strolled through the plaza with her husband. "But we're voting for Bush. Kerry's promising too much that he can't fulfill."
RESTON AS a whole has a reputation for being relatively Democratic-leaning, though north Reston residents are more likely to vote Republican, while south Reston is more likely to vote Democratic, according to past presidential election results.
In 2000, Al Gore carried Reston by defeating George W. Bush by a margin of just more than 2,000 votes. Gore won eight Reston precincts with 24,384 votes, whereas Bush took the remaining four Reston precincts with 22,216 votes.
How Reston will vote next week will remain to be seen, but one thing is certain. The political environment is being fueled by anger and dirty tricks on the parts of both Republic and Democratic supporters.
Campaign signs in Reston have been spray-painted, stolen, ripped up and, in one case, according to witnesses, a jogger pulled up every Bush sign she encountered along the path near Reston Town Center and stomped on it before continuing on her jog. But at the same time, a huge John Kerry sign at a home along Reston Parkway was destroyed last week.
Gene Luke, a South Lakes resident who stopped in to the Farmers Market at Lake Anne on Saturday, said Kerry supporters have repeatedly stolen his Bush/Cheney signs from South Lakes Drive, Soapstone Drive, and Sunrise Valley Drive.
"All the Kerry signs are up and all the Bush signs are taken down," said Luke, who said he had to chase off a Democrat from his yard because the Kerry supporter was trying to rip up his Bush sign.
A nearby Kerry campaign volunteer from Reston, Brian McConville, said the negative tactics are increasing on both sides, though not from official campaign volunteers.
"Unfortunately it's been increasing," he said. "It's unfortunate the debate's gotten polarized to that extreme."
BY FAR, according to interviews with the Reston residents at Lake Anne on Saturday, national security is considered the most important issue by both sides in the upcoming election.
Lake Anne resident Luke Boyd said he will vote for Bush because he worries that changing leadership amidst the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism could lead to a weakened defense and a greater likelihood of more attacks.
"Why change sides with someone else when we're making progress with our current Cabinet?" he said. "I don't necessarily like it, but this is the course we're on. You can't just pull out. We're at war whether you like it or not."
Colleen Kissick, who was drinking a cup of coffee at the Lake Anne Coffee House with Boyd, said she disagrees with Republican opposition to stem-cell research and female reproductive rights, but is too concerned about terrorism to vote against Bush.
"I just feel safer in the hands of the administration we have now," she said.
Meanwhile, Reston resident Sally Carroll said she would feel safer with a president who is more cautious about going to war, especially when the United States has not been attacked by that country. Bush, she said, has potentially made the country less safe from terrorists.
"I'm voting for John Kerry because Bush is a hazard to the whole world," she said.
At another table at the coffee shop, Jeff Crowe, a Libertarian, said he will vote for Michael Badnarik next week.
"He believes in individual responsibility and limited government in a real way," he said.