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Guests reflect on President Biden's town hall in Milwaukee

Posted at 6:11 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 19:11:43-05

MILWAUKEE — Following President Joe Biden's visit to Milwaukee, some of the guests shared mixed reactions to how he handled the town hall.

The town hall was hosted by CNN and held at the Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee.

Randy Lange, who co-owns Lange Brothers Woodwork in Milwaukee, asked Biden how he would instill confidence in business owners amid talks about raising the minimum wage and its potential negative effects on small businesses.

"He responded with what I thought he would say, which is a political thing, but I think that on a positive note that he did show that there was movement off the insistence before that this was a $15/hour straight and then be phased in. I think it's going to be better for small businesses that there will be phasing in," said Lange.

Lange went on to say he felt the economy was stronger under former President Trump, however, he hopes now President Biden can pull things together and speed up the economic recovery.

Dessie Levy, a registered nurse and former academic dean asked about racial disparities in health care and vaccine distribution.

"I was actually very pleased with President Biden's response. He was very personable," said Levy. "It was more so affirmation and confirmation from him that he is committed to a positive outcome as it relates to specifically, even going beyond the pandemic, addressing the health disparities."

Meeting locals who got to ask President Biden questions at town hall

Among the group was Joel Berkowitz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who cited the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and asked the president about ongoing threats from white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.

"I have mixed feelings about it. I am glad that he talked about white supremacy as a threat that I believe it is. He was forceful about that," said Berkowitz. "I think he focused on the law-enforcement side of it, which again I acknowledged in the way from the question is important, and I don't take that for granted. But there are things that we can't just prosecute away."

Berkowitz went on to say he thought Biden did a better job answering questions on the pandemic than other topics.

Kerri Engebrecht expressed concern about the lack of access to leftover COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable people like her son. She has been pressing the state for answers and change for weeks.

"The empathy everything he showed was amazing. As a mother, that's what you want, you want somebody, especially with that kind of power and influence, to care and understand how you feel about your child and how badly you want what's best," said Engenbrecht.

Engebrecht stressed she and her family were not looking for special treatment by attending the town hall, rather they were hoping for a change to how leftover vaccines are handled.

Biden did ask to speak with Engebrecht after the town hall. She told TMJ4 News the president had to race off, but he made sure to get her contact information. She is waiting anxiously to hear from the White House.

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