Lottery issue: voting from the gut

By Julie Fann

How can the public ever know the minds of Nashville lawmakers? With a constitutional lottery amendment hanging in the balance, local citizens are listening to their gut when they go to the polls.
   In an informal survey conducted by the STAR yesterday, United States Post Office patrons were divided straight down the middle -- five supported the lottery amendment; five were against it.
   "If I were even going to vote (and I'm not) I'd vote 'no'," said one elderly gentlemen speaking on condition of anonymity. "Politicians anymore are nothing but a bunch of liars. You can't trust anything they say."
   Most who opposed lifting the ban on a state lottery did so based on religious convictions. Eleanor McKinney, a Valley Forge resident who is of the Christian faith, said she is against gambling and that is why she can't support the amendment.
   "It would be taking money from people who have a problem with gambling and who can't help themselves. I know people like that," she said.
   Chester Hodge, a World War II veteran who spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, recalled his own struggle with gambling in the past as his reason for voting against the amendment. "I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps and lost an absolute fortune gambling," he said.
   However, one citizen who plans to vote 'no' on the lottery issue stated reasons other than religion as the reason for his choice.
   "If you read the constitutional amendment correctly, it states that K-12 doesn't get a penny until higher education gets it," said Elizabethton resident Paul Martinez.
   Those who supported lifting the ban on a state lottery said they believe it will benefit the state financially.
   A woman who called herself J.B. and who moved to the area from Colorado, said she was originally against the lottery in that state but changed her mind. "I think it benefits education in Colorado; it benefits parks. I think the whole state of Tennessee needs to find some way to get money in here," she said.
   Keith Mashburn, an Elizabethton resident who has two children who attend Elizabethton High School, supports the amendment, he said, because he hopes his family might benefit from it.
   "If they use it like they say they're going to, to put kids through college, kind of like the state of Georgia did, I'm for it," he said.
   Stoney Creek native, Johnny Orr, and Carolyn Campbell, said the option to play the lottery should exist in Tennessee so that money stays inside the state.
   "It would keep funds in our state, and we could take that money and utilize it for kids and schools," Orr said.