U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer from Minnesota’s sixth Congressional District paid a visit to Sartell City Hall for the citizens of Central Minnesota to address any concerns they have he can take back to D.C.
Crowds turned out in large numbers, many of them left standing out in the cold because the gathering space was too small to fit everyone.
Emmer addressed issues revolving around the new president’s administration involvement with Russia, the future of the Affordable Care Act, regulations of major financial institutions and the rising costs of education. Opinions on all were divided heavily.
Kelly Stromberg, an attendee of Wednesday night’s event explained she was looking forward to talking about the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare provision implemented by the Obama administration that’s at risk of being repealed with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate.
“The ACA repeal needs to be scrapped until we can find something better,” she said.
John Grobe, from St. Joe also says he doesn’t agree with any of Trump’s actions, especially when it comes to his stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened up a free exchange port between the Untied States, Canada and Mexico.
“I would think most of the farmers around here realize that they benefit from NAFTA and that scrapping it would be dangerous to the agricultural business in Minnesota,” Grobe said.
Kevin Tadych, A Trump supporter, who was skeptical about Emmer and his policies, said he was out to support Trump and hoped Emmer would see the sign he put up.
Tadych mentioned that protesters who were against Emmer, Trump and the Republican party had every right to be there, but he firmly believes Trump is the right man for the job.
“What really attracted me to him is that he’s not a career politician, he’s pro gun, anti-abortion – I’m a conservative and that’s what I like,” Tadych said. “I think Tom Emmer will uphold his values, when he took over for Michelle Bachman a few years ago he had agreed with a couple of Obama’s bills so I was skeptical for a while, but now all of a sudden that Trump made it he’s going to be all Trump, we need someone who can listen to both sides.”
Emmer’s key topics that were a main concern to St. Cloud State students revolve around the future of public education — including higher-ed, which could affect funding and student retention rates for the university.
Emmer took questions from a Sartell School board regarding his stances on taking federal money out of state education.
He said one of the republicans biggest accomplishments so far was passing the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ to ensure Minnesotan’s education was, “not being dictated by some nameless, faceless Washington Bureaucrat.”
“What we did was not try to reduce federal funding, but detach the control from the federal funding, this is all up to your local Department of Education and your school districts,” he said. “The idea was to take those federal dollars and give you more local control over them.”
The education issue that affects Minnesotan college students the most is the changing dynamic of the workforce and the increased options of going to tech schools instead of the four year university route that St. Cloud State provides.
“The workforce is really a challenge,” Emmer said. “Our unemployment number is low.”
He said the main problem for the Stearns and Wright County area is that they have so many jobs to offer, but no one is taking them and a lot of those jobs don’t require a 4-year college degree.
“You know I think we are really doing our families a disservice when we say that if you don’t get a 4-year degree, you won’t be successful.”
Emmer explained that many of the students who do come out of a 4-year degree school rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and don’t obtain a job that can help pay off that debt.
“I toured the Anoka Technical College and I spoke with a number of carpeting students – who are often hired before they’re done with their degree because we need them out in the workforce,” Emmer said. “I even talked with one that got a degree from St. Cloud State in Psychology and that he wanted to be a psychologist, but he couldn’t find a job in his field that would pay off the debt that he incurred, now he’s getting a carpeting degree from Anoka Tech and he’s been hired before he even finished his schooling.”
Attendees suggested Emmer have more town-halls similar to this to address further concerns.