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On paper, there are some obvious differences between the town of Saugus and the Boston neighborhood of East Boston.
Demographically, about 60% of East Boston residents are either Hispanic or Black, and in the 2016 election, voters there preferred Hillary Clinton by a large margin. By contrast, about 90% of Saugus residents are white, and during the last election, the town favored Trump. And yet, East Boston and Saugus share a grim similarity — both are seeing high rates of new COVID-19 infections.
After casting her ballot at East Boston High School, resident Elisangela Silva said she wants the next U.S. president to know that she works very hard.
"I do everything I can to help my community, to help my neighbors," said Silva, who said she immigrated to the U.S. from Brazil about 20 years ago.
Silva, 43, said she voted for Joe Biden, and sees her choice as a vote for a better life for her and her children.
"For equality, for happiness and for our country to continue to grow together and not fight. That's it," she said. "No more fights."
Lesley Castillo, who's studying education at Bunker Hill Community College and working part time at a coffee shop, said she hopes immigration reform becomes a priority for the White House.
"A lot of East Boston residents are immigrants. I definitely don't want anyone leaving here or being deported," said Castillo, 20. "There's many countries where they have to leave in order to survive."
For Abdelilah El Mokhtari, who works as a bus driver and showed up to vote wearing his MBTA uniform, the top priorities are fighting racism and putting an end to the pandemic. For him, that meant a vote for Biden.
"I want my voice to be heard," El Mokhtari, 55, said.
A 20-minute drive north, at the Knights of Columbus hall in Saugus, Jim Sullivan, 67, also looked forward to making his voice heard by casting his vote for President Trump. Like El Mokhtari, Sullivan wished for a speedy end to the coronavirus outbreak.
"I just want to live in a country where we're safe, free to work, you know? And hopefully get rid of these masks," he said. In addition, Sullivan also hoped the next presidential administration would keep taxes down.
Marianne Ciulla, who works as a scheduling coordinator at the VA hospital in Bedford, also voted for Trump. But even if he doesn't win, she hopes the next president will lead the country in the direction of "prosperity and peace," which, for her, means unity and equality for all.
Annmarie Moberg, a Biden supporter who works as an administrative assistant for a telecom company, said she hopes the next president will focus on people like herself.
"We're working middle-Americans, trying to make a living," she said. "Try to keep us in mind, that we need to survive. ... It should be about more than the rich and powerful."
For all the political and demographic differences that define the communities of Saugus and East Boston, voters in both places expressed some of the same themes: that they want the winner of this presidential election to know they work hard, they care about their community, and they want freedom.
After an incredibly divisive election season, maybe that’s a sliver of common ground.
This article was originally published on November 03, 2020.
This segment aired on November 4, 2020.
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