Legislative forum concerns

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The events that unfolded after the Spirit Lake legislative forum on Saturday, Feb. 17 were unacceptable. 

State Sen. David Johnson asked a question of the audience during the forum. A constituent of his responded. Senator Johnson called her out and publicly reprimanded her for responding. Not for the content of her response — she was reprimanded for responding. 

The conversation continued after the forum. Senator Johnson jumped up from the table when she approached. She did not back down. Apparently unsatisfied that she was not afraid, he came around the table and got in her face. He said — even explicitly said — he was going to get in her face. 

When I tried to speak with her, Senator Johnson dismissed me, waved me away and said, "Goodbye, Mom, Goodbye." My 24-day old daughter was waiting in the wings. 

No one should ever feel physically intimidated to contact their legislator. No legislator should ever get into the face of a constituent to make them feel inferior.

It is disappointing, to say the least, that this even happened. I have never felt so disregarded or experienced such blatant sexism. I am a constituent, too. 

We all get passionate about the issues — myself included. These issues get heated and so do emotions. I am just as guilty. But in no way should our passion for the issues, policy or politics result in this behavior. 

It took the conversation to a new level. I am embarrassed and ashamed that a legislator would behave this way and think this is acceptable.