Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 Church Directory
REP. SHANE MEKELAND (L) AND SEN. ANDREW MATHEWS (R) discussed topics and answered questions during Tuesday’s Townhall meeting at Pebble Creek in front of a couple dozen guests. (Patriot Photo by Bill Morgan)
JIM NEWBERGER (R) trekked through the crowd Tuesday, allowing guests to ask questions or make comments during the Townhall meeting at Pebble Creek. (Patriot Photo by Bill Morgan)

Newberger hosts Townhall at Pebble Creek

Several dozen citizens from around the Becker area descended upon Pebble Creek Tuesday evening for a Townhall meeting organized by House District 15B Republican  Chairman Jim Newberger. Sen. Andrew Mathews and Rep. Shane Mekeland were the speakers who discussed the topics and answered questions from their constituents.

The Pledge of Allegiance was undertaken as well as an opening prayer by Newberger.

The subjects discussed were the Sherco Power Plant, the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary issue, current and past elections, state taxes, Gov. Walz’s executive orders and Critical Race Theory.

Newberger gave an introduction at around 7 p.m. and then introduced former State Rep. Doug Wardlow, who is running to unseat Keith Ellison as Attorney General.

Wardlow ran for the position of Attorney General in 2018 and lost a contentious race by just 3.5%. Tuesday, Wardlow vowed to continue to fight for lawfulness in the State of Minnesota, identifying numerous ridiculous and failed policies his counterpart supports.

“Law and order needs to be restored,” said Wardlow. “I will support law enforcement and will stand by the rule of law.”

Wardlow promised the crowd he will fight to protect Minnesota  families, stand with law enforcement, stand for job creators, laborers and farmers, stop financial scammers, crack down on sanctuary cities, defend vulnerable adults and the elderly and make Minnesota come first.

Sherco

Mekeland spoke of the recent developments in regards to Xcel Energy’s new model indicating they are considering pulling out of Becker under the pressure from the PUC and environmentalists.

“This is a real concern as environmentalists, including the Sierra Club, have demanded the Sherco plant stop the transition to natural gas,” said Mekeland. “In other words, they want to get rid of the Sherco plant. Fortunately, Sen. Mathews and I and many union groups are fighting to keep this from happening.”

Mathews said he and Mekeland have been involved in numerous meetings with Xcel Energy and the City of Becker and even though Xcel has not “officially” announced they are closing Sherco — the models show they are seriously considering it.

“We are fighting for the citizens of this district and pushing back,” Mathews said. “It will ultimately come down to the company making the decision, and we know pulling out of Becker would cause major damage to this area.”

A citizen asked, “what can we do to help?”

Mekeland said to speak up at city meetings, contact the PUC  and write letters to the editor of the paper to voice their concerns.

Another citizen asked about Xcel’s plan to put in a huge solar farm at the Sherco site and Mathews said that expansion project is still expected to go forward.

“Xcel seems to be on a path to pull coal energy and go to solar/wind energy,” said Mathews.

Newberger chimed in by saying, “Guess what? You never see an employee parking lot at a solar farm.”

See next week’s Patriot for a full story on the plans of Xcel Energy and the effects it will have on Becker.

2nd Amendment

Jim Bonin of Big Lake spoke about an upcoming meeting with the Sherburne County commissioners and asked people to help attend the rally and any future rallies.

“I’m asking for people to come out to the meeting next week (June 15 at 9 a.m.) at the government center and help put the pressure on the county to consider adopting this policy,” Bonin said. 

In late May, approximately 80 residents turned out for a rally in support of the 2nd Amendment and urged the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners to adopt a resolution in support of their cause.

“If one cannot make it, contact your commissioners by phone or flood their emails with your support,” said Mekeland.

Elections

Mathews addressed the 2018 and 2020 elections and talked about the processes of voting and how things need to change.

“Election law is a simple formula,” he said. “One valid voter, one vote. We need to protect that equation.”

Mathews told the audience he wasn’t sure the state has the apparatus in place to be sure of this simple process. He noted he and several other elected officials are working on a provisional ballot policy where — if a voter arrives at a polling place and they do to have proper ID or valid proof of residence, they could still vote, but that ballot would be put aside until the voter returned with proper ID.

“We need to move towards ensuring all voters are legal residents,” he said.

Several audience members mentioned the election fraud opinions and asked how people could help put a stop to it.

Mekeland advised people to become election judges — a simple solution to ensuring election integrity.

“We have someone in this room (not named by Mekeland), who was barred from helping to verify ballots right here in the State of Minnesota,” said Mekeland. “We need to have better protections in place.”

A guest shouted out, “It doesn’t make a difference who you vote for — it makes a difference who counts those votes.”

Several other guests asked if the State of Minnesota’s voting machines (Dominion) can be hacked and if so, why isn’t anything being done about it.

Mekeland said the main street media is not their friend and that they can’t get any traction as long as they ignore the idea.

Executive Orders

Mekeland and Mathews told the guests the legislature is going back to St. Paul June 14 and will — again — vote to have Gov. Walz give up his emergency powers now that the pandemic is basically quenched.

“COVID is not over, we know that,” said Mathews. “But the emergency is.”

Mathews said he is pushing to have legislative veto power if the governor continues to try and exercise executive orders.

“That would mean that if an emergency situation arises in the future and the governor issues his executive order, he would have those powers for 30 days and in order to extend those powers, he would need the legislature to approve it,” said Mathews.

A guest from the crowd asked Mathews to tell Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka that if the vote fails June 14, to have him (Gazelka) stand on the capitol steps and tell the citizens “to ignore Walz’s orders.”

Mathews said he would pass along the comment to Gazelka.

Another guest asked “why can’t the governor be recalled?”

Mathews said the process to have that done is very difficult and is virtually impossible.

“What we most likely need to do is get involved in local politics, stay alert and learn and get to the polls in the next election to vote him (Walz) out,” said Mathews.

Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory (CRT) is an academic movement of civil rights scholars and activists in the United States who seek to critically examine the law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream liberal approaches to racial justice. Critical race theory examines social, cultural and legal issues as they relate to race and racism.

It is loosely unified by two common themes: first, that white supremacy, with its societal or structural racism, exists and maintains power through the law; and second, that transforming the relationship between law and racial power, and also achieving racial emancipation and anti-subordination more broadly, is possible.

Betsy Armstrong of Becker, a Cum laude graduate of George Mason Law School, member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar and a former Becker School Board member, told the audience that CRT is a Marxist theory and should not be taught in schools.

“Basically. kids are being taught that if you are white, you are bad and if you are bad, you are evil,” she said. “If teachers are teaching that, our schools need to be examined.”

Armstrong ensured listeners she plans to continue to fight for academic standards of various subjects by attending school board meetings and sending comments to the responsible officials at Becker Schools.

Mathews capped off the discussion by quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Public Safety

Mathews stressed how he feels strongly about having successful law enforcement agencies and reiterated he stands with law enforcement, stands for safe communities and stands with the men and women in blue.

“Do we need police reform? Sure! That’s all good but what we also need is reform of the people who the police are dealing with,” Mathews said.

Taxes

Mekeland and Mathews both vowed they will fight to keep the state’s budget manageable and that not new taxes would surface this legislative session.

“With the surplus and the federal government granting money to the state, I am sure we will prevail with no new taxes this year,” said Mathews.

Abortion

Mekeland and Mathews told the guests Tuesday they will continue to fight for the unborn as long as they are in the positions they are in. Mekeland gave an impassioned speech on an experience he had with his daughter’s doctor and how that resonates in his mind when it comes to the abortion issue.

“I, of course, don’t agree with Roe versus Wade and I think the only way we overturn it is by getting the majority in the house, the senate and a different governor.”

Mathews told of his personal experience involving his younger sister and told the guests, “you will never get a compromised answer from me.”

“I honestly believe that in my lifetime, we will have this thing (abortion) overturned,” he said. “I truly believe that.”

The meeting closed at around 8:30 p.m. with a closing prayer by Mathews.