Opinion: Rep.-Elect Mortensen not living up to his stated values

Submitted by Alicia Donahue

This opinion piece was published in accordance with the Shakopean’s opinion submission guidelines. To read the guidelines or submit your own piece, click here.

Last week, while the majority of our community made difficult decisions and sacrifices to stay home, Representative-Elect Erik Mortensen went on an irresponsible road trip visiting bars open for business despite temporary bans on indoor dining, under the guise of fighting against an “unconstitutional tyranny” — a claim for which there is no legal basis. 

Lawsuits regarding this supposed unconstitutionality have been brought before the courts and subsequently rejected. Judge Thomas Gilligan Jr. of Ramsey County issued such a ruling in September identifying that the governor’s actions complied with state law governing peacetime emergency declarations. The court order went on to declare the state law itself is constitutional.

Something is not unconstitutional simply because you don’t like it. While we all know Mortensen understands this, he’s making it abundantly clear that the rules don’t apply to him and that he simply does not care.

On his website, Erik Mortensen claims to live the values of “respecting others and lending a helping hand when they see people struggling.” To Erik Mortensen, I ask: How are you lending a helping hand to the hospitals flooded with COVID-19 patients? To medical professionals who have worked tirelessly, sacrificing their needs and at times personal safety for the needs of their patients? To the front line workers such as social workers, 911 operators, paramedics and police officers who have continued putting themselves on the line every day in order to protect our community? 

Perhaps it’s by trekking 800 miles across the state, defying laws and visiting a bar whose co-owner is currently facing charges for the attempted murder of two police officers.

I’m also left wondering how Mortensen is living the value of respecting others when a Facebook post on his “Representative Erik Mortensen” page openly mocks a learning disability. Our children with learning disabilities deserve an advocate at the Capitol who will represent them, not use their disability in a demeaning and bullying way.

Look, none of us like the pandemic restrictions. However, with great freedom comes great responsibility. A responsibility that calls upon us to live in a way that respects and promotes the freedom of others as well as ourselves. Our liberation is tied to one another. 

Mortensen says on his website, “we need to uphold the law (and) punish people breaking the law…” So what happens when it is our elected official promoting and supporting breaking the law? Don’t we deserve elected officials who operate with honesty and integrity? Don’t we deserve elected officials that hold themselves to the same standards they claim to hold others to? Or do laws simply not apply to people in positions of power?


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