Constituents hold town halls 'with or without' their congressmen

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Town hall in Minnesota's 2nd congresional district.

Neither United States Rep. Jason Lewis nor Rep. Erik Paulsen, of the state’s second and third congressional districts made an appearance at town hall meetings held in their districts Thursday night during the weeklong congressional recess.

Organizers in both districts said they would hold the events “with or without” their congressmen.

In Paulsen’s district, hundreds packed Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Plymouth on Thursday night, with many more waiting outside. Although Paulsen did not show up, his constituents who attended learned about what bills he had voted for and against. Organizers also collected questions they would have asked Paulsen if he had been there.

Paulsen reportedly has not held an in-person town hall since 2011.

A similar situation unfolded at junior congressman Lewis’ town hall at Wentworth Library in West St. Paul. Constituents were invited to learn about Lewis’ congressional activities and share their thoughts and concerns. The organizers who led the meeting took notes and videos they say will be shared with Lewis’ office.

Earlier this week, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s 6th congressional district attended a town hall in Sartell, Minnesota. He remains the only Republican member of the state’s congressional delegation to appear in-person so far this year.

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