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(SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Rep. Dean Phillips and Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde pose for a photo on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s balcony overlooking the National Mall. Phillips invited Lunde to be his guest at the State of the Union.

Brooklyn Park’s Mayor Jeff Lunde attended the 2020 State of Union address as Rep. Dean Phillips’ guest Feb. 4.

Despite the divisive climate in Washington D.C., Lunde said that he felt welcome during the State of the Union. Upon arriving, Phillips’ staff told him that the scene would not be the deeply partisan image that one might expect. He described the atmosphere as not quite like a party, but certainly relaxed.

Lunde arrived in the late hours of Monday, Feb. 3, and stayed through Feb. 5. During his time in D.C., he met a variety of legislators and their guests at various get-togethers, he said.

While Lunde has identified as a Republican, he attended as a guest of a Democrat. He said he did not tread on party lines, and was honored to have the opportunity to meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meeting a high-ranking national politician such as a president or speaker of the house is an honor, regardless of which party is in power, he said.

During the trip, Lunde said he and Phillips spoke with others about bipartisanship and diversity, as well as their success working together to see a pathway to citizenship created for Liberian nationals with Deferred Enforced Departure status in 2019. When explaining how immigration reform could be approved in such divisive times, he told people that he “Believes in unicorns … we proved that something can get done.”

Phillips is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to reach across the aisle on issues in the House of Representatives. The caucus wore purple ties or scarves during the State of the Union address this year.

Other topics of conversation included the Bottineau Blue Line extension project, as well as affordable housing and job training, Lunde said. The city needs to leverage tax credits for housing investors in order to bring affordable housing to the city, he said.

“Ten years ago we were in the news for all the wrong reasons,” he said. “Now we’re in the news for things we want to be in the news for,” he said.

Attending the address was “a great honor for me,” Lunde added.

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