By John Lauritsen

SARTELL, Minn. (WCCO) — Republican members of Congress have been taking heat from constituents for not holding in-person town hall meetings.

On Wednesday night, Congressman Tom Emmer held one at the Sartell City Hall where supporters and protesters turned out. A full three hours before the town hall meeting began, there was already a line extending well beyond city hall.

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“I think there definitely should be more of these. Look at all the interest there is in these town halls. A lot of people want their voices heard no matter which side they’re on.”

Inside, Congressman Emmer took questions from a packed room about a number of topics, including education, Russia, immigration, health care and the Affordable Care Act.

“First off, I just want to let you know that my life is in your hands,” one constituent told the Congressman.

“All the Minnesotans I know and who we associate with, they don’t look at it as being a Republican or a Democrat,” Congressman Emmer responded. “They want to make sure you survive and you thrive just like everybody else.”

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One of the more vocal constituents was Haji Yussuf, a Muslim man with UniteCloud. He asked Congressman Emmer to tell the president his family is not a threat.

“I want you to go back to Washington and tell the president that you know Haji Yussuf, and he has two kids — a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old — and they’re in no way a threat to this country. They love this country, and they’re going to save this country and they’re Americans,” Yussuf said.

“Everyone in this country deserves to be safe, right? Everyone in this country deserves to live to their full potential, and practice their faith,” Congressman Emmer responded.

Emmer did say Wednesday night that he thought the executive order for the travel ban was rolled out very poorly. Things were mostly civil at Emmer’s town hall.

At times both when the Congressman was speaking and when constituents were speaking, protests outside the doors were audible. Because of the limited space inside the city council chamber, not everyone waiting was able to make it inside.

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A few constituents thanked Emmer for holding the in-person town hall, from both those that agreed with him and disagreed.

John Lauritsen