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Letter to the editor: Second District Town Hall falls short

To the editor:

Does this sound like representative democracy in action? It sure didn't feel like it.

I was one of the lucky few who were "admitted" into an event called a town hall hosted by our congressional representative, Jason Lewis, last Saturday.

Several weeks ago, he announced with great social media fanfare that he would be holding his first "public town halls" since he took office over 16 months ago, but no further information was available. Eventually, I was able to enter a ticket lottery on his website and received an email only two days before the event notifying me that I could attend.

After I drove to Wabasha, my purse was searched by law enforcement officers (there were five), and my government-issued ID was checked against a list. I was handed note cards to submit up to three written questions.

About 40 people attended with a third of the chairs empty. Constituents without tickets (denied in the lottery process) standing outside were not allowed to fill the empty chairs. The event was exactly an hour long.

Inside, 10 constituents were each allowed 60 seconds to address comments to Lewis, then the representative spoke for about 15 minutes. Only a handful of the dozens of submitted questions were read by a moderator with unlimited time for Lewis to respond or digress as he wished.

Constituents were reprimanded by staff and even asked to leave if they interrupted or asked for clarification. Lewis told us that elections have consequences, we may not like his positions, and he doesn't have to agree with us.

True, but it does not absolve him from his duty to listen respectfully to the citizens he represents and to engage in honest dialogue. It was disheartening. We deserved better.

Jessie Nowak