Rep. Jim Walsh (R-Syracuse) arrived at the town fire hall in Marcellus Aug. 13 with a whisper. Pulling into the parking lot, the 10-term congressman brought just one bodyguard -- his dad, who lives in town.
"There must have been nothing on TV," Walsh said, quietly slipping into the door.
Then things got a little noisier both in the fire hall and for Walsh, who came back to his old stomping grounds (of sorts) to a mixed welcome from local residents, former and current competition and a slew of other Syracuse-area residents. Many were concerned with the War in Iraq, others about his stance on recent legislation on the hill and some "just to see our congressman."
Some wanted to thank him, like Ed Heinzerling who came with daughter Heidi, both from Marcellus. He said Walsh was a key component in securing a NASA grant for Argus Avionics, which builds aircraft landing systems.
"He was very instrumental in getting us the funding to get this running," Heinzerling said. "We came to express our gratitude."
Others came to show support for the war support.
"Winning this war is crucial," said Christie Odell of Camillus. "I know we have to make sacrifices, but there's no other way to apparently deal with these people," other than through military means. "Ditto," said her father, Don Odell, of Marcellus.
Yet others were displeased with Walsh's efforts.
"He talks one way and votes another," said Dave Lester of Syracuse. Lester is a former medic in the U.S. Army and has served in counter-terror operations.
"He needs to de-fund the war and refund the VA (hospital)," he said.
Some didn't come to see Walsh, but to get at his following. Marcellus resident Karen Hanford urged local residents to sign her petition that would grant her a space on the Veteran's Party ballot.