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Langley couple deals with political intolerance

Carol Griswold and Richard Bacigalupi pose next to the sign outside their Langley home that endorses freedom of choice when picking a presidential candidate. The couple  supports the Republican presidential ticket in Tuesday’s election. - Jeff VanDerford / The Recor
Carol Griswold and Richard Bacigalupi pose next to the sign outside their Langley home that endorses freedom of choice when picking a presidential candidate. The couple supports the Republican presidential ticket in Tuesday’s election.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Recor

LANGLEY — The scorching intemperance of this year’s national political campaign has flared up close to home for one Langley couple.

Sometime between 5 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 16, an act of political vandalism occurred that, for Carol Griswold and husband Richard Bacigalupi, was an example of pure intolerance.

Political signs declaring support for the Republican presidential ticket in their front yard were knocked over and smashed while Griswold was inside having dinner with the couple’s daughter.

The pair have lived on a quiet street near Langley’s downtown core for six years. She’s a registered Democrat, he’s a registered Republican, but this year they are supporting Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin.

“We’ve never put out signs before and had heard there was the possibility of property damage,” Griswold said. “We were warned it wasn’t a safe option by friends who are long-time residents. They thought we were brave, but foolish.”

Langley is easily the South End’s most liberal area. George Bush picked up just 21 percent of votes cast in one of the city’s two precincts in 2004; in the other Langley precinct, he earned 25 percent of the vote. He didn’t do much better there in 2000, and in the August primary, Gov. Christine Gregoire finished with roughly 75 percent of the vote.

Bacigalupi said that the sign-damage incident demonstrates that a state of hypocrisy is alive and well in the small seaside community.

“Langley is perceived as being open-minded, diverse and progressive, and the majority of people here are just that,” he said. “But when you express a differing political view other than liberal, an angry sentiment appears. Sometimes it takes the form of good-natured ribbing but, recently, it’s become something deeper and more disturbing.”

Griswold said she’s noticed a growing sense of political assumption, that if one lives in Langley it’s expected one has a particular political viewpoint. They are worried political vilification will worsen if people don’t step up to confront and condemn it.

“We love our town, we contribute to the town and we are concerned it will get worse,” Griswold said.

Though they feel vulnerable, they are not intimidated. They have replaced the damaged GOP sign and added a new one that reads, under the visual symbols of the two political parties — an elephant and a donkey — “We support all Americans’ right to choose their candidate.”

Bacigalupi said police took their report about the vandalism, but have no leads.

Griswold said she hopes that folks start becoming more gracious in their approach to people with differing views.

“No one should make conclusions about people based on their politics,” she said.

Bacigalupi said that regardless of who wins, they intend to support that person over the next four years.

“There is a disturbing culture here that says, ‘Don’t disagree with us.’” he said. “The key here is that everyone has the right to choose.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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