After three debates, some people may still be contemplating which side they are going to choose in the upcoming presidential election.
Walpole resident Janet Ryan Rock knows exactly who she is going to be voting for, because she is the older sister of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
"This is the first time in my life I’ll be able to vote for him," she said of her brother who is Republican candidate Mitt Romney's running mate. "Because he’s been representing the 1st District in Wisconsin for 14 years, and that whole time I’ve been living here [in Massachusetts]. I moved here in 1991, so this is first time I get to vote for him, and yes, I am very excited to do so.”
Rock has lived in Walpole with her husband Bill since 2008. She is a research chef for Canton-based Dunkin' Donuts in the company's research and development department. She works on making new products and focuses on beverages like flavored coffees.
Rock is the oldest of four Ryan children, with three brothers. Paul is the youngest.
"I was the only girl so there was lots of boys around which is good, and then not always so good," she said with a smile. "We always got along, but then you always have the little sparring and what not. But between Paul and I, we have nine years. So I think I probably was more like the older sister, who did a lot of babysitting and looked out for the kid brother.”
That kid brother may soon be the vice president of the United States and that reality may be difficult to set in for any person, including Janet.
“It’s surreal. It’s hard to put your hands around some days, because it’s just Paul; and Paul has always been very passionate about political affairs about what’s happening in our world, how it impacts us. So that’s normal. But the world media, kind of the spotlight, that’s different," she said.
They are a close family and Janet stays in contact with her brother regularly, even during the election. She said she will be with Paul on election night in Boston.
“We talk, exchange emails, whatnot," said Rock. "They come here, we go there, spend holidays together. Probably, we see them three or four times a year at least. He has kids. I want to be around and with the kids while they’re growing up. I want them to know their Aunt Janet and Uncle Bill, so we still do family things together.”
Rock said Ryan has been interested in politics since he was a teen. In high school, he volunteered on President Ronald Reagan’s second campaign. Back then she never thought he himself would be on the ticket of a presidential election one day, however.
"I think he really kind of got the bug then, so he’s studied politics since then,” she said. “He was interested in politics but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was going to become a politician. I really didn’t think he would be a politician until he started thinking about it. I think he was 28 when he was first elected to Congress, and so that was probably about a two-year journey from considering for six months or a year to actually then starting a campaign and then winning that election. So it was probably about that time when I realized that he may have an ambition to be a politician.”
Around town, those who know about Janet's relationship to Paul have all been positive.
"It’s really been very heartwarming for me. Because I’ve been rather surprised by a lot of people who just come up to me, acquaintances even, and say ‘Hey, it’s really great. I wish you well, wish your family well.' And so that been quite something,” said Rock.
"I’d say it’s been overall positive. My neighbors, for instance, I’d say everybody in our neighborhood knows," she said. "I don’t know if everybody’s necessarily Republican or not, have to assume not, but most of them have waved and said ‘Hey, good luck!’ So regardless of where they stand I think everybody has just been great about giving us at least the benefit of the doubt and well wishes, so it’s been nice.”
After the election, no matter what happens, Janet will look for life to go back to the way things were, at least for her. She has gone on the campaigning trail on her brother's behalf in New Hampshire and in Florida since he was named Romney's running mate.
“I think my life is going to go back to normal. He’s in the spotlight, I’m not, so quite honestly I might have to go through a little more in order to see him, but otherwise, it’s not going to have an impact on my day-to-day life,” she said.
Come Tuesday, Nov. 6 if you see Janet, you won't have to ask her who she will be voting for, she already knows.
“Vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket," she said. “Paul has my support full out. So I’m very proud of him. I’m proud of what he does and I think he does it in a respectful manner and I think that that’s a testament to his character.”