Ohio Valley Residents Observe Transition With Interest
WHEELING — America has a new president, and local residents are reflecting on just what that means.
For Teddie Grogan, co-chair of the Ohio County Democrat Women, Inauguration Day was a day of celebration tempered with memories of an insurgency at the U.S. Capitol just two weeks ago.
“I am giddy with excitement on one hand, and carefully hopeful on the other,” she said. “I’m looking toward healing.
“I am thrilled to death the inauguration is taking place, but sad it has to be under armed guards. But our republic held. Our democracy is on display for the whole world.”
She hoped people on Wednesday saw and understood Biden was elected in an election without fraud.
“Hopefully his remarks today will create a healing atmosphere where we can start coming together,” Grogan said. “Then we can start getting people back to work, assisting with housing, and getting kids back to school. That is my hope.”
Grogan remembered the feeling she had watching John F. Kennedy being inaugurated as president in 1961.
“He was young, and there was a new generation taking over,” she said.
“This time it’s the old generation who is going to have to bring the country back to where it needs to be.”
Ohio County Republican Party Chairwoman Elgine McArdle has found recent upheavals in politics to be both overwhelming and upsetting.
“I’m exhausted,” she said. “I literally have had to turn off the news and disconnect because I can’t take all the hostility.
“I don’t condone violence … but both the far right and far left have to get a grip. It is a crazy time in political history, and in history in general.”
She said other Republicans have asked her in what direction they should go now.
“I tell them if Biden is the president, we are going to have to deal with him for the next four years,” she said. “I say let’s concentrate on the moderates — for whatever that is worth.
“We certainly don’t want to go away, but we certainly don’t want to go charging up the flagpole on Inauguration Day. There are certain things that are still proper in terms of respect and decorum.”
McArdle said everyone should respect the office of the president, even if they don’t respect the person who holds it.
She thinks Trump should have attended Wednesday’s inaugural ceremonies for the sake of presidential history and decorum, but she also understands why he didn’t.
“As president of the United States, he should have gone,” she said. “As for Donald Trump, I don’t blame him. It doesn’t matter what he did. If he went, he would have been criticized. He didn’t go, and he was.
“For the last four years everything has been a battle for him. Whatever he does is wrong.”
Retired teacher Shelly Lewicki of Wheeling said she thought “America was due for a new start.” She taught more than 40 years in the Martins Ferry School District, and remembered escorting many field trips to Washington and the U.S. Capitol.
“I cried to see it (the insurgency) happen,” she said. “I thought of all this time we’ve spent teaching students just to see this happen.
“I hope this is a new start, and that people were appalled as I was. And I hope the children see that it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Catherine Konkleski of Wheeling, age 17, said she was not old enough to vote in the just-passed 2020 election. But as for the election of Biden, she said, “I’m not against it.”
“I’m definitely going to vote in four years,” Konkleski said. “I love the thought of exercising my right to vote, and everyone should vote. People fought to give us that right.”
Patty Kirksey of Wheeling said she was not happy to see Biden take office, as she is a Trump supporter. But she said she will support the office of the president.
“I have respect for the president because he did win the election,” Kirksey said. “There will be a lot of change, and not all of it is going to be good. It’s going to be a wake-up call for the nation.”
Rosemary Conkel of Wheeling said she was happy with having Joe Biden as president.
“I am glad he was elected,” she said. “I think he will do a good job.”
Donnie Patterson of Wheeling concurred.
“It’s a good thing, I guess,” he said of the election of Biden. “It was an interesting transition. Hopefully, he can take care of things and he and Congress can work together.”