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Local politicos attend Trump inauguration

Former legislator Steve Wenzel, left, Brainerd City Councilwoman Sue Hilgart, center left, her daughter Emma, center right, all received tickets from U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, right, to attend the inauguration of Donald Trump. Submitted photo/Office of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan

Several notable Brainerd area residents got to see Pres. Donald Trump take the oath of office, courtesy of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan's office.

Brainerd City Council member Sue Hilgart came with her daughter, and former legislator Steve Wenzel also got a ticket from Nolan. Of the inauguration festivities, Wenzel said Thursday he was most looking forward to Trump's address, as Trump had said he'd spent a great deal of time on it. Wenzel said he had been invited to the Jimmy Carter inauguration and both George W. Bush inaugurations, but the Trump inauguration was the first he would show up for.

"I am attending to show respect for the fact that this a great event of the peaceful transfer of power of the most powerful democracy and nation on the face of the earth, so it's a special occasion," he said.

Wenzel once served as a DFL legislator from 1973-2001, but he supports Trump politically, and was a Trump delegate during the Republican primary. He supported Trump because of the potential to appoint anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court and advance U.S. interests in the Middle East.

He was disappointed in the Democrats that were boycotting the inauguration, saying they set a bad example to the rest of the country and the world.

Hilgart said she also voted for Trump, despite complicated emotions.

"I had mixed feelings about him," she said. "But, he was elected and he is going to be the president on Friday. So, I feel like Americans at least have a duty to show respect in that regard, whether you agree with him politically or agree with all of (his) ideology."

"I think it's going to be interesting to see what's going to happen over the next 100 days, and certainly over the next four years," she said.

Hilgart and her 24-year-old daughter Emma went to both inaugurations of George W. Bush, and Emma wanted to go this time, too, Hilgart said. She anticipated the Trump inauguration being as well attended as the Bush inauguration. This inauguration was even more accessible to the public because the event was publicized in advance on the internet, she said. Besides the swearing-in itself, they planned to attend several public balls, including the Great American Ball on Thursday and the All-American Ball on Friday. They also planned to visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History, a tradition when the Hilgarts visit Washington. The Washington Monument was closed for repairs and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial didn't exist the last time they were there, so they would likely visit those as well, Hilgart said.