Shaking hands and patting shoulders between the produce aisles of Midtown Foods, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz chatted with Winona residents Monday as a line formed between the apples, oranges and melons.
Winona was the fourth stop on the DFLer’s public meet-and-greet tour of grocery stores around the state’s 1st District. In the days following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last month, Walz told the Winona Daily News any resulting security increases shouldn’t slow communication channels between public officials and constituents.
Walz said the “Congress on your Corner” tour was inspired by and named after the event Giffords hosted before a gunman shot her in the head.
“It’s a sense of defiance — that we will not have our democracy undermined,” he said.
Walz has held a number of similar events in previous years, but his staff is taking extra precaution for the public’s safety in light of the Arizona shootings, said Meredith A. Salsbery, the congressman’s district and communications director.
Most who stopped by discussed issues such as health care and conservation, similar to many of his constituents in southeastern Minnesota, Walz said. The stops help him interact and share ideas with citizens who deal with their own individual issues.
Winona resident Larry Lyman spoke with Walz about retirement benefits for veterans. A retired National Guardsman of 20 years, Lyman credited Walz for having the courage to stay open to public input, despite the recent shooting.
“I respect him for coming out,” he said. “I expect that my public officials will continue to come out.”