Respect is a two-way street

The Zimmerman mayor told the audience at the Jan. 31 town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Tom Emmer that a lack of respect would not be tolerated. In these partisan times, we need to be able to deliberate about our democracy thoughtfully and with respect to the others’ opinions.

It was uncomfortable then to see a lack of respect in the room on several occasions. It started with the very first person called upon, who ended his monologue with an inappropriate joke. In fairness, Representative Emmer’s staff did try to interrupt him, as did many of the constituents present. However, he didn’t stop telling the joke.

Mr. Emmer, I hope you are aware that there were people in your audience who heard this joke and were offended by it, failing to address the joke did not do this, calling on the same person again sent the message that you were okay with his inappropriate remarks.

Later I was surprised when humor was once again used in a disrespectful way in response to a young adult constituent’s question. In this case you joked about growing a money tree in your backyard while never answering the question. Mr. Emmer, this sent the message to every young person in the room that you don’t take their interest in different political solutions seriously. It told them they cannot go to their elected representative and ask for an honest answer.

I was also struck by the questions you avoided during the session. When one of your constituents was worried about the lack of workers for her manufacturing company, you responded with a comment about stigma in the trades, but never really addressed her issue. As you know, Mr. Emmer, manufacturing is one of the mainstays for central Minnesota’s economy. If we were to lose our manufacturing base, our economy would be severely impacted. As someone who works with the trades, I would like to seriously hear how we might address this concern.

I’ve often heard people say respect has to be earned. I’ve always believed respect is given until it is lost. I wonder what you believe? — Renee  Cardarelle, Annandale

Load comments