In a town of just over 7,000 residents (double if you count the outlying area), it's hard to find one person who has anything bad to say about their former mayor. As the current Governor of Alaska, and Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican Party ticket, Sarah Palin still lives in tiny Wasilla, AK - driving herself to and from work and still yelling support at her kids' hockey games. Every business owner (and MerchantCircle members) I spoke to in Wasilla has met Gov. Palin and many count her as a friend.
"She's awesome. I know her personally, so you may call me biased, but she's just real down-to-earth," says Denise Rexford, owner of Stampin Moose. "We'd like to keep her as the Governor of Alaska, but she can better the state of the entire country."
As the mayor of Wasilla, Governor Palin developed a reputation for reducing spending and cutting taxes. During her speech at the Republican National Convention, Becky Raterree of Northen Mist Gifts pointed out Governor Palin's 'shout out' to small business owners.
"I like the fact that she mentioned her sister and brother-in-law both own a small business. One thing she could do is make sure that the tax issue is kept in line for small business owners. It would be nice if taxes are cut, but it just needs to stay the same," says Raterree.
Wasilla boasts one of the largest number of MerchantCircle members per capita. Even with 236 members, we had to travel outside of Wasilla to find someone who wouldn't vote for Governor Palin on the Republican ticket.
"I didn't vote for her for Governor, but I think she's done a good job," says Mark Boberick of Polar Breeze Bandanas in Fairbanks, AK. "I won't vote for her on the McCain ticket, because I'm firmly opposed to her abortion stance and I don't think she's prepared or has enough national experience for the job."
Still, whether Gov. Palin is elected or not, Boberick would like to see more information readily available to small business owners when it comes to programs and benefits.
"I had to find out a lot of the information on my own, by attending meetings from non-government agencies," say Boberick. "These programs can really help out struggling small businesses."
No matter what your political affiliation, almost all Alaskans and Wasillians are proud of their Governor, neighbor, and friend.
"I think we need an 'average Joe' in Washington," says Rexford. "As Governor and mayor, she's watched her money, stuck to her guns, and didn't break her promises. If she says she's going to do it, she'll do it. And we'll be behind her every step of the way."