Coon Rapids residents had the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on all things political with U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen at his Congress on Your Corner event at Cub Foods on Northdale Boulevard July 2 and 3.
Paulsen was available at Cub Foods at a table to speak with constituents and discuss their concerns or opinions. Although originally scheduled to be there only July 3, he was available to speak with residents from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday due to a mix-up with dates.
Paulsen said constituents mainly wanted to talk about taxes, gas prices and health care. Many people that spoke with him were passionate about the recent health care legislation decision.
“It came up a lot on all sides. There were strong opinions all around,” Paulsen said.
Resident Bernice Niece said she made a point to come to Cub July 3 to chat with Paulsen.
“I went to a Paulsen meeting on health care in Maple Grove, but this is a lot easier to get to,” Niece said.
According to Paulsen, many were worried about keeping their coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Paulsen said he agreed that pre-existing coverage conditions needed to be kept and urged bipartisan cooperation.
“There’s a perception, at least there was with the folks I talked to yesterday, that there are some in Congress that don’t ever want to deal with health care reform. I think that was part of the problem in the past,” he said.
Before coming to Coon Rapids July 3, Paulsen went to Cub Foods in Excelsior for Congress on Your Corner and then to Bobby and Steve’s Auto World in Eden Prairie to pump gas and meet with neighbors.
After the initial shock of seeing a congressman at the gas pump, many individuals thanked him, he said.
Paulsen said pumping gas gave him the opportunity to ask constituents if the high gas prices were draining their pocketbooks.
“The general theme is yes. There were a few suburban moms who have a little anxiety about filling the minivan,” he said.
Along with concern about gas prices, Paulsen said other constituents were urging for more use of American energy, rather than foreign imports.
This is Paulsen’s second year of doing Congress on Your Corner. While he also has town hall meetings and teletown hall meetings, Paulsen said Congress on Your Corner allows for more one-on-one discussion.
One Coon Rapids High School student even asked Paulsen about how to get more information about joining the Marines.
Congress on Your Corner events also allow more time to learn from business owners and those with insight on certain issues, according to Paulsen.
Paulsen said he chose to come to Coon Rapids since he will now be representing all of Coon Rapids. He also attended the Coon Rapids 4th of July parade the evening of July 2.
“This is the only part of Anoka County I have in my district, but it’s just as important as any other area,” Paulsen said.
Cub Foods store manager Jeff Zinter said the event was well received by employees and staff. This is the first time the Cub Foods on Northdale has hosted a Congress on Your Corner event.
“A handful of people said it was great that we gave up a little of our space for a congressman to talk with constituents,” Zinter said.
Bethany Kemming is at [email protected]