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Traffic Signs

Political placards perturb some drivers



What would make a business-suited woman in a speeding car pretend to be vomiting uncontrollably out her window while giving two thumbs-down signs?


Why, it's Renee Waun standing with a "Kerry-Edwards" campaign sign along the base of the Parkway East entrance ramps in Edgewood.


Still shy of 8 a.m., Waun and two other borough residents are beginning their third week promoting the Democratic presidential ticket here during morning rush hour. On this cold, damp morning most people honk or wave or at least busily ignore the trio, who smile and wave at everyone. The group also holds signs each evening at the busy intersection of Braddock and Forbes avenues in Regent Square. Waun, pastor of a local Unitarian Universalist church (and mother of City Paper contributor Heidi McDonald), says the most enthusiastic public reaction came the day after the first presidential debate. The group gets its share of fist-pumpers, thank yous and requests for extra signs; Waun laughs at the memory of the man in Regent Square who yelled out "I'm voting for Kerry but you guys are fuckin' up traffic."


The group has also seen its share of shaking heads, incoherent shouts and epithets against Kerry or Waun ("You're going to be so sad when Bush wins"; "Get a job"; "Go home and clean up the kitchen"). One man, trying what sounded to Waun like an anti-Kerry roar, actually collided with the car in front of him, she says.


Today amid the horns and happy looks, one young man gives the finger to the gray-haired pastor.


"We need people to see that we're committed -- we are not just a flash in the pan here," she says. "We're not going to give up."


"This is like a pep rally for the Democratic voters," says David Herndon, another local Unitarian minister standing with a "Honk for Kerry Edwards" sign. He says the Supreme Court-resolved 2000 election, coupled with the importance of the 2004 contest, led him to this spot


"The airwaves are saturated with messages," says the day's other participant, David Bryden, an AIDS educator. "But what people don't see enough of is a friendly face. That friendly face, that friendly wave ... hopefully that's a positive impression that will lead them to, on Election Day [think]: 'Oh yeah, I meant to vote for Kerry, I better get myself to the polls.'"

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