Teacher campaigned for tolerable candidate

Portia Weisfeld in KendallPhoto by Jessica Swanson

One candidate frightening, Both disappointing

Portia Weisfeld, a kindergarten teacher in Miami for more than 30 years,  handed out flyers with endorsements of candidates by the union for public school teachers in Miami-Dade County as voters walked into a polling place in Kendall, a suburb southwest of Miami.

The union, the United Teachers of Dade, was endorsing all Democrats – Barack Obama for president, Bill Nelson for the United States  Senate and Joe Garcia for the United States House of Representatives and so on.

Weisfeld had driven from her classroom at the Irving & Beatrice Peskoe K-8 Center in Cutler Ridge to the polling place after school ended for the day. She would be handing out flyers until the polls closed.  Weisfeld said she had been a union member most of her life.

She was not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about either presidential candidate.

But she said she believed the Democrats were more concerned about spending for education and other social issues and she wanted to do what she could to encourage support for them on Election Day 2012.

“People need to remember to vote for people who will represent them and not just the one percent,” said Weisfeld.

If Republican Mitt Romney won the election,  she said, the country would regress to Bush-era politics, a direction “the country cannot afford.”

Weisfeld was also interested in the environment, particularly the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from Canada 1,700 miles across America to refineries in Texas.  Environmentalists say leaks or spills from the pipeline could harm drinking water supplies, wetlands and wildlife.

In the second presidential debate, Romney said he favored building the pipeline.

President Obama was equivocal. “I’m all for pipelines,” Obama said. “I’m all for oil production. What I’m not for is ignoring the other side of the equation.”  Some environmentalists interpreted “the other side of the equation” to be a reference to potential environmental damage and to the creation of electricity with windmills, solar panels and other devices.

As Weisfeld saw it, Obama opposed the pipeline. “It’s as if the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago just didn’t happen,” she said. “We only have one planet and it will all fall to corporate greed if we don’t keep that in mind when we cast our ballots.”

She said she thought Obama would do a better job on the environment than Romney. But she said she was disappointed  with both candidates on environmental issues.  “Neither one has done or will do anything profound with the environment, and that’s a shame,” Weisfeld said.

“This is one of those moments that you have to settle with what the ballot has to offer,” Weisfeld said, “and this election is our best chance in sticking with the President.”


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One response to “Teacher campaigned for tolerable candidate”

  1. R Pursell says:

    I love the photo and how you used your piece as a character study, keep up the good work!