Rochester mayor will be in audience for the State of the Union address

Norton said she'll be flying to Washington, D.C., at her own expense after being invited by district's Republican congressman.

State of the City
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton speaks during the "State of the City" event Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — Rochester Mayor Kim Norton plans to be in the audience as President Joe Biden presents his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

“I will be leaving tomorrow morning to do that,” she said Monday, during her report to the Rochester City Council.

Norton was invited to attend the annual address by 1st District Congressman Brad Finstad.

“I’m grateful our congressional representative called and made that offer,” she told the council.

Norton and the Minnesota Republican served together for several years as members of the Minnesota House of Representatives.


The mayor pointed out that she is paying for the trip to Washington, D.C., with her own funds in an effort to overcome frequent criticism of past city-related travel.

Her clarification was in response to comments made by Rochester resident Jason Tupper at the start of Monday’s council meeting.

“We are going to pay for our mayor to fly to Washington, D.C., to see the State of the Union address on our dime for an illegitimate government that stole the election,” he said during the council meeting’s open-comment period.

”Just because of that type of accusation, I am funding it myself from my paycheck, not any taxpayer dollars that are coming out of the city budget,” Norton said of her quick trip to the nation’s capital.

“It isn’t really necessary to do that, but in this polarized society that we live in, those kinds of accusations are hurtful,” she added. “I think it’s disappointing that when someone is invited to this kind of honor, that type of thing has to happen.”

Council member Molly Dennis said she worries Norton’s decision to pay her own way sets a precedent that could deter other elected officials from representing the city at such events in the future.

“I would be in support of using budgeted money for funding such an amazing opportunity for our city,” she said.

Biden is slated to deliver the second State of the Union address of his presidency at 8 p.m. CDT.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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