MARSHALL - Torrey Westrom said he's been getting a strong message from Minnesota voters. They want change, he said, and he wants to help make that change.
Westrom, the Republican candidate running for Congress against Rep. Collin Peterson, visited the GOP Victory Center in Marshall on Saturday and joined area volunteers in making phone calls for the party's "Super Saturday" event. Westrom said it was good to take part in local grass-roots campaign efforts.
Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, has served as a Minnesota state senator, and is now running for U.S. office in the 7th Congressional District.
"It's a big task, but we're very pleased with where we're at," Westrom said of the campaign. This spring, Westrom got some national attention from the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns program. Westrom said he's also received good feedback from Minnesota residents.
Westrom said he would act in stark contrast to the "overreach" of current U.S. government. A prime example of that overreaching, he said, was the Affordable Care Act.
"I call it the Unaffordable Care Act," Westrom said. Small business owners and farmers are seeing their insurance premiums go up, he said, and more cost increases are likely in store when employer mandates kick in.
"I've had small business owners come to me and say, 'It's hard for us to get actual quotes,'" Westrom said. "Except that (costs) are going up."
Westrom said Obamacare needed to be repealed, and replaced with more patient-driven solutions.
Another major concern for Westrom was unsustainable national spending and debt.
"There is a spending problem in Washington. That's got to change," Westrom said. He noted that Peterson had voted multiple times to raise the debt ceiling. If the federal government can't constrain its spending, Westrom said, "It's our children and our grandchildren's futures at stake."
"I'm a proponent of a balanced-budget amendment" to the U.S. Constitution, Westrom said.
Energy costs and fuel supplies were another issue Westrom said the country needs to address.
"The Keystone pipeline needs to be built," Westrom said, although getting the oil in the pipeline to market was only part of the reason why. Oil is being transported more and more often by rail, when those trains are needed to move other resources like propane, he said.
"We know how hard the propane crisis hit us last winter," Westrom said. "We can't afford another year of shortages."
Building the Keystone pipeline could also mean some relief for farmers trying to transport grain by rail, he said.