LORAIN — Blood is thicker than the bloodsport of politics for David and Joel Arredondo.
The brothers will watch tonight’s debate between President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney in different locations and from opposite sides of the political aisle.
David Arredondo, 62, is vice chairman of the Lorain County Republican Party and trying to get Romney elected. Joel Arredondo, 65, is the Democratic president of City Council and has been stumping for Obama.
Despite their political differences, the two remain close, speaking every day and trying to stay diplomatic when discussing politics.
“If he were to say, ‘Romney really fell flat on his face,’ Then I’ll say, ‘That’s absolutely wrong,’ ” David Arredondo said. “We’re not looking to be confrontational or argumentative, but there are times when it does come (to) that.”
Joel Arredondo, 65, said the Arredondo family is very close and the brothers won’t let politics divide it.
“That’s what makes this country great is that we have abilities to make our choices,” he said. “Some place else, maybe if that were to happen, they might come and take him away in the night or I could’ve been taken away in the night, too.”
The brothers are sons of Mexican immigrants who grew up in South Lorain where their father came to work for U.S. Steel. Joel Arredondo has always been a Democrat.
On the Council, Joel Arredondo runs meetings, but only votes to break ties. He is soft spoken but clear about where he stands. In stump speeches for Obama, Arredondo tells Latinos the best way to make their voices heard is to register to vote.
While a Toyota salesman, he has praised Obama’s $80 billion auto bailout of Chrysler and General Motors, which he said helped all car companies. He’s criticized Romney, who, in a 2008 New York Times editorial, called for a “managed bankruptcy” of Chrysler and GM, writing, “you can kiss the American auto industry goodbye” if it got the bailout.
David Arredondo didn’t register as a Republican until the early 1990s, but he first reached out to a Republican in 1960. It was a handshake with New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.
Rockefeller — who would later serve as vice president with President Gerald Ford — was campaigning in Lorain for Richard Nixon, who was defeated by John Kennedy. David Arredondo remembers hearing a few boos for Rockefeller, who spoke to the crowd in fluent Spanish.
David Arredondo would go on to be a delegate at the 1972 Democratic convention in Miami for presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., who died Sunday at 90. McGovern, an anti-Vietnam War candidate trounced by Nixon, was the last Democratic presidential candidate David Arredondo said he voted for.
In 1976, David Arredondo campaigned for U.S. Sen. Morris Udall, D-Ariz., for president and refused to vote for eventual nominee Jimmy Carter, who defeated Ford for president.
“I thought he was phony as can be,” Arredondo said of Carter who was defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980.
David Arredondo compares Carter to Obama saying both believe government spending can improve economies and spending on social programs can improve lives. David Arredondo said it was tougher to register as a Republican than vote Republican in a historically Democratic city and county. David Arredondo, a Roman Catholic, compared it to switching religions and said it was unthinkable not to be a Democrat in the county for many years.
“Republicans were largely outcasts. You didn’t want to know them, you didn’t want to associate with them,” he said. “Fortunately, that has changed greatly in this county.”
While David Arredondo has run candidates trying to unseat his brother, the Arredondos’ different allegiances haven’t caused problems within their parties, according to Anthony Giardini, Lorain County Democratic Party chairman and Helen Hurst, Lorain County Republican Party chairwoman. Giardini and Hurst say the Arredondos eloquently represent their parties and the ideal of respectful political discourse.
Nonetheless, the brother’s philosophies about their parties are different. David Arredondo is more of a true believer. Avid Arredondo praises President George W. Bush, who he campaigned for in 2000 and 2004.
Joel Arredondo is more critical of his party. He said President Bill Clinton and other Democrats were mistaken in joining Republicans to support the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Arredondo said has cost Lorain jobs and spurred illegal immigration. He questions Obama’s signing of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
While there has been mostly gridlock in Congress since Republicans gained a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections, the brothers say they try to work in a bipartisan fashion locally.
“He can claim that he has any number of friends, including his brother, who are Republicans,” David Arredondo said of his brother. “I’m proud to say the same.”
- Age: 62.
- Profession: Lorain County Community College director of International Student Services.
- Political affiliation: Registered Republican and Lorain County Republican Party vice chairman.
- Personal: Husband and father of two.
- Age: 65.
- Profession: Salesman for Sunnyside Automotive Group in North Olmsted.
- Political affiliation: Registered Democrat and Lorain City Council president.
- Personal: Husband and father of two.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.