Demonstrators call on Rep. Erik Paulsen to host in-person town hall meetings

Demonstrators from throughout the 3rd District called for increased access to Rep. Erik Paulsen on Feb. 4. (Sun Current Staff photo by Sean Miner)
Demonstrators from throughout the 3rd District called for increased access to Rep. Erik Paulsen on Feb. 4. (Sun Current Staff photo by Sean Miner)
By Sean Miner
Sun Current Newspapers

Several dozen demonstrators held signs and chanted outside Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen’s office in Eden Prairie for two hours Feb. 4.

The protest was organized by Indivisible CD3, the local incarnation of a group that bills itself on its website as “former congressional staffers [revealing] best practices for making Congress listen.” The aim of Saturday’s event, according to organizers, was to call attention to the group’s petition, which calls on Paulsen to hold quarterly, in-person town hall meetings with his
constituents.

“He is the lever that we have to exert any influence in Washington, so he needs to hear our voices,” said Jena Martin, co-chair of Indivisible CD3. “That’s the primary goal of our group, to reach him to represent us.”

Martin noted that, nationwide, the Indivisible movement does lean left, politically — the national website proclaims the group to be a “practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda.” But, she pointed out that the local push for more access to Rep. Paulsen was driven by those on both sides of the aisle.

“Our district has a lot of what people would call moderates,” said Martin. “The group is left-leaning, but I don’t think holding Paulsen accountable is a left-leaning request.”

A spokesman from the Paulsen office issued a statement in response to the protest. The statement pointed to over-the-phone town hall meetings that Paulsen conducts fairly regularly.

“Congressman Paulsen has held over 100 town hall events reaching hundreds of thousands of constituents since taking office,” read the statement. “Despite coordinated political efforts organizing protests across the country, Congressman Paulsen will continue to prioritize communication with constituents.”

According to Indivisible CD3 Co-Chair Clara Severson, those phone calls aren’t good enough.

“We think it’s really important to put him on the spot,” said Severson. “He should be facing us and seeing exactly who’s asking the questions.”

The telephone town halls have allowed for residents to ask questions, but Severson stressed that being able to speak with their representative in the flesh was paramount.

Temperatures dipped below freezing, but that didn’t deter protestors. (Sun Current staff photo by Sean Miner)
Temperatures dipped below freezing, but that didn’t deter protestors. (Sun Current staff photo by Sean Miner)
“We need an open dialogue,” said Severson. “When he’s asked questions, we should be able to respond back, and let him know if that was an adequate answer or not.”

Severson said that the group’s petition had garnered more than 1,500 signatures. The request will be turned in to Paulsen office Friday, Feb. 10, and it asks for a response from him by Feb. 20 on whether or not he will comply with the terms.

She said that the group was pleased with the turnout on Saturday.

“I would say it went better than expected,” Severson said. “We ended up with probably 30 more people that we were planning for, which is awesome, especially on such a cold day. I think we made our point to Mr. Paulsen.”

The petition can be viewed at standupminnesota.org/cd3.

  • Sam Clemens

    It’s great to have accountable politicians, but the protesters should consider that just because a politician doesn’t vote their way doesn’t mean the politician is not representing his or her district. The only representative that will ever vote 100% the way they want is if they themselves are the politician. The election of now a multi-term conservative determined the district has a continued conservative bias and thus the representative would be expected to generally represent that. The hidden agenda appears to be to create an optic where the representative holds a town hall and then protesters show up to shout the representative down so they can pretend it’s a grass roots effort and make it an immediate “news” item and also for propaganda for the next election. There are other recent news stories (The Hill) indicating these protest efforts have a direct link to the DNC and DCCC.

  • MidwestRep

    This new radical-left anarchist organization, Indivisible, is intent on disrupting government. Per national website, as long as Trump is President they have no intent to have two-way conversations around any issues, simply out-shout anyone who has a different view and protest – protest -protest to prevent any change.

    • I am sorry, but what evidence do you have that Indivisible is a radical-left or anarchist organization? Where do you see Indivisible advocating for “out-shout” tactics? As far as I see, the goals are about engaging local elected officials, which I think is just good ole basic civic engagement. Protest is very American, by the way. Were you equally as critical of Tea Party tactics?

      • MidwestRep

        I read the scripts on the Indivisible site. By the way, nice pivot, there, Silas, to try to increase acceptance by equating with the Tea Party, which focused on a couple of issues and sought to change views within their own party, bringing forward candidates. Not seeking to oppose each and every action, including all cabinet appointments, by a new President. Will local Indivisible leaders be asked by the IRS to fill out detailed lists of their members and contributors as local Tea Party leaders were?… I don’t think so.

  • Asking a rep to hold a town hall in person is radical?

    • MidwestRep

      Picketing the local office, DEMANDING that the Rep (who is away conducting business on our behalf in Washington, D.C.) meet in person is just kabuki-theater to get a report like this in the newspaper. Demanding local office staff time, in person, to take names with a basic (scripted by puppet-masters) “wants an in-person town hall meeting” message steals that time from other constituents requesting/needing staff assistance to resolve a situation.

  • Keith Nagel

    Where does one get the call in number for these phone “town hall” meetings? Paulsen’s sites don’t seem to list this information anywhere…makes me question who is on the calls he is talking to..

  • Keith Nagel

    Was it too much to find out the information for those town halls over the phone?

  • RustyHammer

    Paulsen is his own worst enemy.