Angie Craig delivered opening remarks at a town hall meeting

U.S. Rep. Angie Craig delivered opening remarks at a town hall meeting, her 11th since taking office, in Belle Plaine on Saturday, Nov. 23.

Angie Craig, United States Representative for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District, could not avoid questions regarding her support for the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry into President Trump at her town hall meeting, which took place at Oak Crest Elementary in Belle Plaine last Saturday morning, Nov. 23. This event marked her 11th town hall meeting since taking office.

During the event, which saw roughly 30 people in attendance during an hour and a half period, Craig attempted to focus her message to the public on four major areas. Craig stated she was in support of lowering the cost of healthcare, improving infrastructure and creating jobs, supporting farm families, and increasing career and technical education.

In her opening remarks, Craig underscored her support and endorsement of a series of bills, including the 21st Century Workforce Partnerships Act, a piece of legislation that aims to expand opportunities for high school students to partner with Minnesota schools and businesses to develop career-track skills like manufacturing.

Members of the public then got a chance to ask questions of Craig and brought up the following issues: her plans to address difficulties that students with autism face inside and outside the classroom; the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,  which is a trade agreement between the namesake countries designed to replace NAFTA, that Craig publicly supports; and her stance on the impeachment inquiry, which one member of the audience called a “charade.”

In regard to the impeachment inquiry, Craig remained somewhat agnostic in her messaging last Saturday and maintained she would wait for the facts to decide whether she would support to actually impeach President Trump, a message she has echoed publicly in the last couple months.

“The American public is probably seeing these [impeachment hearings] in more real-time than I am,” Craig said at the town hall meeting. “I’m going to let the process play out,” Craig later added.

The Congressional resolution vote to approve the rules for the inquiry (232-196) more or less rode party lines. This fact stood out to one audience member who asked Craig if she would have voted for the inquiry had it been against a sitting Democratic president.

“The truth is, it might have been easier if it was a Democratic president,” Craig said. “My job is to do the right thing based on the evidence.”

Walking into Saturday’s town hall, Craig had her work cut out for her. In the 2018 election to unseat Jason Lewis, Craig convincingly lost in Belle Plaine and Belle Plaine Township. In Belle Plaine proper, Craig fell to Lewis, who took 58.3 percent of the votes, leaving Craig with 41.6 percent. In the Belle Plaine Township precinct, that margin was even greater, with Lewis taking home 71.8 percent of the votes and Craig taking just under 28 percent.

“I don’t care if someone voted for me or not. The job is to represent everyone,” Craig later told the Herald, “and that’s why I open these up to everyone. This is the kind of representation that I’d like to see.”

Craig stated that the questions fielded to her regarding the inquiry highlighted the public’s varying views on the issue and shed light on political divisions across the country.

“You know not everyone’s going to agree with you, but we can still come together. We can still have a respectful, civil conversation even when we disagree,” Craig said, “and we can still keep looking for common ground. I think that is what has to happen for the whole country if we’re going to bring America back together again.”

Craig, both during the town hall meeting and separately afterwards, repeated the message that she is willing to undergo across-the-aisle political action. When asked when she has specifically supported an action by President Trump, Craig noted that she agreed with his desire to open up year-round sales of E-15, an ethanol product derived from corn.

Other questions to Craig from the audience revolved around separating families at the border, mental health policy and the sustainability of striving for a college education amid soaring student loan debt. The final three questions Craig received were asked by Belle Plaine School District students and encompassed the latter two topics, as well as the topic of political activism generally.

“What I say to young people is get up and speak now,” Craig said in response to a question asked by a young student.

A video of the entire town hall meeting is available on the Herald’s Facebook page.

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