A man walks into a bar… actually a female journalist walked first into O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on Elden Street in Herndon and then into the bar at Il Fornaio Authentic Italian Restaurant and Bakery on Market Street in Reston Town Center, and posed the same question to several patrons of each establishment:
“What do you see as the priorities for President Barack Obama’s second term in office?”
At 5:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, the coverage of the 57th inauguration was still showing on the TV sets at O’Sullivan’s and the early crowd divided their time between their drinks, conversations with friends, and the televised scenes of the inaugural proceedings. The televisions had all been tuned to the evening’s sporting events by the time the occupants of the Il Fornaio bar were asked for their views, but whatever was being broadcast along the airwaves, at both spots there were folks willing to give the question a thoughtful answer and to share their opinions.
Brooks Emmons, Herndon, controller, government contractor
“He definitely needs to concentrate on the numbers, trimming spending and waste. We need to get our debt under control. It’s time to look at departments like the EPA. They are over-reaching and over-stepping their boundaries. Even the Department of Education. I think it’s served its purpose. School districts seem to do just fine without them. Fairfax Schools are a prime example. They don’t need the Department of Education telling them what to do. They are rated among the best. And everyone complains about school funding, but in Fairfax County schools have electronic blackboards, TVs in classrooms, computers, plenty of the best in the latest technology. Just look to eliminate the waste and concentrate on creating jobs.”
Lauren Bland, Herndon, finance
“I think the priority should be working with Congress to create new jobs, a bi-partisan progression that says ‘Hey! Let’s get things done.’ I would also like to see, in terms of social advancement, gay marriage, or what I like to call marriage equality, be legalized federally. It shouldn’t be a state thing. I can’t understand how you can be legally married in one state, then you cross the border and you’re not married anymore. You know, now that I think about this question a bit more, I think that federally recognized marriage equality would be my number one priority, even above working with Congress. “
Thomas Johnson, Herndon, Pentagon contractor
“I think he should focus more on funding public, state-funded institutions, universities and colleges. Help fund my institution that I just graduated from, Norfolk State University. It would be nice if he funded these institutions more. More people go to public institutions than private because of the costs and they need the help. If we need to educate more people to get the jobs of today and the future, they have to have the help. I was lucky and had parents who could help me, but that’s not the case for a lot of people.”
Inger Ljungberg, with Isabelle, Herndon, D.C. healthcare researcher
“I think the economy is the big one. Financial stability, along with figuring out a good way to deal with our current debt. What I also think is very important is to figure out a way to deal with gun safety. I am really hoping that President Obama can get all 23 or at least the majority of his suggestions on this issue passed.”
John Kennedy, Reston, general manager of a commercial construction company
“I hope he will re-think Obamacare and the financial impact it will have on companies and individuals. No doubt healthcare needs to be reformed, we need to take care of people who don’t have insurance or who can’t afford the level of insurance they need, but this is not the answer. This has a negative effect without solving the issues. The economy is our number one priority, and Obamacare will only hurt economic growth.”
Ellen Bernhard Smith, Reston
“There’s a number of things, like taxes and our debt. But I think Civil Rights come first, and by that I mean that gay people should have the right to legally marry everywhere.