Pendleton Heights senior laments country's political schisms

Mar. 30—PENDLETON — In a political environment seemingly more polarized than at any point in recent history, Mallory Gentry acknowledges that, as a first-time registered voter, she has grown up tuning out much of the heated rhetoric that has come to characterize the country's elections.

"When you're little, you don't really pay attention to politics that much," said Gentry, 18, a senior at Pendleton Heights High School. "I would say now, when I'm at family gatherings, sometimes that comes up, and it's very striking to see that, all of a sudden, our nation is split almost in two."

Still, she's been looking forward to her voice being heard. Casting her vote, she said, is "a way that I can say, hey, I need this to change or here's what I want to change in our society. I've been looking forward to being able to do that."

Climate change and women's rights are two issues which are top of mind for Gentry, a four-time all-area swimmer for the Arabians who plans to attend Kalamazoo College in the fall to study chemistry. She said her ideal presidential candidate will address environmental issues with the future in mind, even if that person doesn't have all the answers.

"I've been looking into the environment and making sure that a candidate will want to help make our climate better for future generations," Gentry said. "I want someone to advocate for those issues."

Gentry said she hasn't yet made a decision on who will receive her vote for president in November, but plans to research the candidates in earnest during the summer months.

"I think it will definitely be hard to make a decision," she said. "It's kind of hard to find the good things in the candidates that you want to see, because they're all attacking each other. I think it will be hard for me to figure out which one I think will do best when all I see is negative (attacks). I feel like that's going to play a big part in my decision."

Gentry also bemoaned the lack of a credible third-party candidate for president, noting that such a person could not only help moderate the tone of the country's politics, but also bridge the gap in policy differences.

"That would help make the striking political differences be more moderate," she said, "but then it might be hard to get all the votes you need. I still think it would be better if we had a third (candidate) that people could go to and get the support they need."

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