AZTEC & BLOOMFIELD — Asking some local businesses in Aztec and Bloomfield the day before Election Day whether voting will make tomorrow's to-do list garnered a unanimous, if half-hearted, response: "No."

This sentiment wasn't confined to age, race, religious affiliation, or gender this election cycle, these San Juan County residents are not casting a ballot Tuesday. And they didn't the last time around, either.

"I think you're a fool to vote," said George Rowe, co-owner of Crash Music, 108 S. Main St., in Aztec. "It won't make enough of a difference to justify the effort."

Rowe, 59, and his partner, Crash Music co-owner Susan Rys, are both sitting out this election, and feel no compunction to do otherwise.

"We don't have leaders," Rys lamented, "so it's up to everybody to turn off the TV and do something positive at the local level. That's where you can make a difference in the lives of Americans."

Rowe and Rys see their business as a unique opportunity for the local community to come together and share ideas and help one another. From hosting an upcoming juried visual arts show, offering private lessons, holding live concerts and leading drum groups, the couple mean to make a difference in their area by doing what they believe elected representatives simply fail to do: improve the lives of people in concrete and inspiring ways.

"There's another deficit problem, an inspiration deficit," Rowe said.

Further south along S.


Main, another couple, Roger and Virginia Kinkennon, who manage Aztec Motel, 221 S. Main, second Rowe and Rys' dissatisfaction with politics writ large today, nationally or at the local level. They, too, have no plans to vote.

Asked which candidate for president they support, Roger Kinkennon wastes little time registering his disgust. "Either one, Romney or Obama, they're both liars," he said, his frustration only tempered by his recognition of the urgency with which many live each day.

"The political campaigns on TV, radio, the yard signs never say exactly what they'll do and how they'll do it," fumed Ginny to appreciative nods from her husband as they both stood from behind the counter in the reception office of their motel, which is up for sale. "They only trade jabs at the other candidate, which shows me they're willing to burn through a billion dollars to try to get elected, not do anything to actually help working people."

The Kinkennons, who have operated their motel for nine years, decry the exorbitant taxes from income to the luxury taxes their motel pays they feel local and national political leaders overcharge or simply misuse. "We've traded handshakes for codes," he said.

Over in Bloomfield, at Ruben's Barber Shop, 408 W. Broadway Ave., owner Ruben Corrales was busy giving a third-grader a fade buzz cut as his mom looked on. Mr. Corrales' shop is bedecked with countless religious objects including an LED message display in the front window that quotes Old Testament.

Asked what he sees as the priority for the next four years, Corrales cites a prophet from ancient Israel in the 8th-7th centuries BC.

"What we need is a Jonah figure," he said, between deft sweeps of his hair clippers. "This country is headed in the wrong direction. We have strayed as a people, and we look to answer-poor politicians who see compromise as a dirty word."

Asked if he plans to cast a ballot, Corrales shakes his head. "The Electoral College dictates that one," he said. "With five electoral votes in New Mexico, it's hard to see how your participation matters."

A few doors down, at Tattoos with Luster, 412 W. Broadway Ave., apprentice tattoo artist Victoria Martin confirmed she will not be voting but not because she doesn't feel her vote counts or because politicians are incapable of helping Americans. In fact, she considers herself a strong supporter of President Obama.

"I mixed up my birthdate numbers when I filled out my voter application," Martin, 26, said, a sheepish grin peeking out over the error. "The voter-ID people called me up and after a few seconds, they were like, You don't sound like a 90-year-old.'" This happened last week, which is too late, I was told, to correct it in time to vote.

Asked what she likes about Obama's first term, Martin quickly and easily let fly a list of accomplishments she feels have a positive impact on her life and for all working people, students and the poor.

"That Obama is pro-choice means a lot to me as a lesbian and as a woman," she said. "Health care? Love it. And that he has taken on the student loan industry means a lot, too. I have $13,000 in loans. Unlike his competition, Obama truly understands what it means to be someone from modest means who has hopes and dreams for something better."

And Martin was also clear about another thing. She will straighten out her birthdate and be ready to vote in the next election.