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Letters to the Editor: October 20, 2012

Westrom supports education policies for rural students

As the former Superintendent of Alexandria's Public Schools, I have monitored Torrey Westrom's support of education. Over the past two years Torrey supported education policies that help students, especially those in rural schools. In 2011, he voted to increase state education funding by $686 million over the previous budget. Importantly, for schools in our area, he voted to establish a fund to aid rural schools with fewer than 1,000 students. That new aid has led to an average funding increase of four percent per year for rural schools.

Westrom voted for much needed reform in the management of school trust lands. In 2012, the Legislature set up independent oversight of school trust lands to ensure lands are managed in a way that maximizes the financial benefit to students. Previously, the DNR had not been managing them well, cheating our students of revenues.

Further, Westrom worked together with Democrats and Republicans and voted for legislation that puts students first. He supported new teacher evaluation requirements that account for student performance, and allowing experienced professionals with an interest in teaching to enter into the classroom through alternative certification. He worked in a bipartisan manner on this issue, and Governor Dayton signed the education reform.

Keep Torrey Westrom working for rural schools and elect him to the Minnesota Senate!

George W. Cassell - Alexandria, Minn.

Be accountable, vote to keep marriage undefiled

I believe God's Word is eternal, true and makes you free. What does God say about marriage and homosexuality?

God instituted, or ordained marriage between a man and a woman in the Garden of Eden. They became one flesh, created anatomically fit to procreate, thus the family. This is considered natural, or by nature. Man and man and woman and woman can't do this. God sees homosexuality as against nature, inordinate or without natural affection, sin worthy of death.

Now I have done my part - let you see God's will through His Word. Now you are accountable for your choices and actions based on the truth. Will you side with the creation or the Creator? Our state already recognizes marriage between one man and one woman as God stated in Genesis. Our legislature chose to give us, the people a chance to keep it that way.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel. I will vote "Yes" for marriage as God instituted it. Those who abstain or vote "No," siding with those who wish to change the meaning to include what God sees as sin, have taken a stand against God's Will.

If you have never voted in your life and don't intend to again, now is the time to be accountable and keep marriage undefiled. And that's the truth!

Beth Schlangen - Benson, Minn.

Marriage amendment would not take away rights

A concerted effort is being made to say that the Marriage Amendment would be "using our constitution to take away rights." This is false.

It's true that "the constitution is supposed to PROTECT our rights," and it does. Why else have we entrusted all our other precious rights to the Constitution if not to safeguard them? How then does safe guarding the definition of marriage by a constitutional amendment "take away rights"?

Those who are stealing the "Vote Yes" signs from our lawns will steal much more if we let them. The amendment is intended to safeguard marriage from groups who repeatedly try to override the consensus of the people and the established "due legislative process" by using the courts and "executive orders" to impose their agenda on us all. When we place the definition of marriage in the constitution it will be only "we the people" who can change it.

The amendment does not "deny" anyone their "lifestyle." We respect "liberty and justice for all"... including our own. The marriage amendment simply states that, by definition, marriage is between "one man and one woman." Those who want to re-define marriage are unable to make their case, which is why 31 states before us have voted YES to amend their constitutions.

Norman P. Olsen - Starbuck, Minn.

McNamar will work to lower skyrocketing property taxes

If you're like me, you've seen your property taxes go up every year. Last year, Republicans in the legislature eliminated the Homestead Credit, which went to 95 percent of homeowners. Here in rural Minnesota, we're picking up nearly 2/3 of the property tax tab; our increases were eight times higher than the metro for homeowners, and three times higher for businesses. Skyrocketing property taxes hurt our families and businesses. They're also the most unfair and regressive tax because they can go up even if your income doesn't.

We need legislators who believe in providing property tax relief for homeowners, businesses, and farmers alike. Jay McNamar is that common sense person with an excellent understanding of our property tax system. Jay is not supported by outside big money. (c.f. Minnesota Futures PAC sending out flyers supporting Republican candidates while distorting the truth about McNamar.)

As Mayor of Elbow Lake, Jay worked with the Council and Administrator to make needed repairs to the city's crumbling infrastructure while working to lower the tax levy. In the past four years the levy went down 4.4 percent! Jay McNamar knows that fair property taxes are better for our economy and will work to restore our Homestead Credit.

Adrian Ledermann - Brandon, Minn.

Wrong for legislators to place marriage amendment on ballot

Most often when controversial subjects are being considered it is much easier to watch from the sidelines and avoid criticism from those who may disagree with your position. However, when it is a question of right and wrong, then I have difficulty remaining silent. Supporters of the marriage amendment are using some interesting points to divert from what I think is the real issue. Our legislators are seeking to place an amendment into our state constitution that will discriminate against some of its citizens.

When you look at our country's history we have had many periods where discrimination was acceptable. That didn't make it right, and as a country we have challenged ourselves to make changes and move towards correcting those errors.

I believe it wrong that our legislators placed this on the ballot for the people to decide. When elected they should represent all of us, not just those who send them money and certainly not always place their political party's platform above all else. I would like to suggest our legislators place term limits for legislative offices on the ballot.

These days it is difficult to be a leader, and I often wonder why people want to place themselves in those positions. I appreciate those that do but more and more I am disappointed in what I observe taking place and it worries me thinking about where it may lead us. When something seems very complex I seek to sort by what I think is right and wrong. That is why I have to vote "No" on this issue.

Ray Farwell - Alberta, Minn.

Westrom gives opportunity to vote on marriage amendment

This November, Minnesotans will decide on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being a union between one man and one woman. For many this was a long-awaited opportunity to decide an issue of great importance for us and our families. As chairman of the House Civil Law Committee, Torrey Westrom was instrumental in giving us this opportunity, as it had to pass through his committee.

Throughout the country, and around the world, we are seeing continuous attacks on the institution of marriage. Just recently, lawmakers in France announced plans to ban the words "mother" and "father" from French law. Official documents could no longer use those words. This came as part of a push for same-sex adoptions and to redefine marriage as being between anyone instead of just a man and a woman.

I'm glad that Torrey stands up for our values, and voted to let us decide to keep marriage between a man and a woman in Minnesota.

Stand with Torrey Westrom and vote for him for the Minnesota Senate on November 6!

Inga Mae B. Urke - Starbuck, Minn.

Conservatives are freedom suppressors

The Conservatives are not defenders of freedom and individual rights, but suppressors of freedom of action in the name of a Greater Good or Higher Authority than the sanctity of Man's life and pursuit of happiness on this earth. They represent the Conning of America to an evangelistic faith in duty and patriotic sacrifice such as John McCain has espoused. A Christian nation devoted to The City of God in which the separation of church and state becomes increasingly indistinguishable.

The coercive strictures of what is parochially termed A Moral Majority are gradually and conceitedly subverting the American Constitution.

The Ninth Amendment states that, "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Please observe the application of those rights to marriage and abortion.

Marriage is essentially a civil action. Only by authority or sanction of a religion is it a spiritual union in God between a man and a woman or any other entity.

Abortion is an individual property right. Without the right to the use and disposal of one's own person no other rights are possible.

Charlie Fowler - Morris, Minn.

NRA rates Minnesota candidates on gun control

If you own a pistol, revolver, shotgun or rifle and don't want the government interfering with your Second Amendment rights, here is how the National Rifle association viewed the Minnesota candidates:

Senate, District 12: Torrey Westrom got an 'A'and John Schultz's view is unknown.

House, District 12A, Scott Dutcher got an 'A' and Jay McNamar got a 'D.'

Incidentally, our past senator, retired Douglas County sheriff, Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen got an 'A plus.'

Kurt Bills got an 'A" while Amy Klobuchar was given an 'F'.

On the federal level, President Obama and Vice President Biden both got an 'F' on upholding our Second Amendment rights.

An 'A' means solidly pro-gun, while a 'D' is an anti-gun candidate.  An 'F' means a 'true enemy of gun owners' rights."

Ted Storck -Morris, Minn.

Put good government ahead of extremist ideology

As proven by the recent failure of the U.S. House of Representatives to even permit a farm bill to come up for a vote, the inability of our legislative officials to solve our countries problems, is the result of the refusal of the Tea Party wing of the Republican party to compromise. We have a similar problem on the state level, as proven by the Minnesota government shutdown after the last session.

What can we do now? The answer is simple. We have to elect a U.S. House and a Minnesota legislature that is willing to put good government ahead of extremist ideology. This means voting for Democrats President Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Representative Collin Peterson. On the state level vote for John Schultz, Minnesota State Senate, and Jay McNamar for the Minnesota House. Alexandria bankruptcy lawyer, Scott Dutcher, Jay McNamar's opponent for the Minnesota House, is a Tea Party member who will put an extreme, right wing political philosophy ahead of good government. Jay McNamar has been endorsed by the Minnesota Farmers Union Political Action Committee.

Marv Jensen, President, Douglas County Farmers Union - Kensington, Minn.

No apologies from Christian community

Mr. Lackey gave some very interesting statements, of which I will not attempt to refute. His research of history may be correct. However, I feel he did not point out the obvious fact that in each case he mentions, marriage as an institution was still between the opposite sex.

I am no stranger to the gay lifestyle. I had a brother who is now deceased who lived the gay lifestyle for 40 years. I loved him unconditionally. He was my best friend on this earth. I disagreed with his lifestyle, but I did not hate him. Disagreement does not equal hate.

Mr. Lackey was correct about Christian behavior. If I love only those I agree with and hate those I disagree with, that wouldn't say much about me as a Christian. On the other hand, my convictions tell me I don't have to bend and sway with today's culture that wishes to condone gay and lesbian couples to marry. I can still love but hold to my convictions.

Let me ask...where does "freedom" end? What will be next on culture's agenda? Will our society continue to "update" its "redefinition" of marriage? Will society try to convince us once again that a different form of marriage should be swallowed by those of us who follow the authority of the Bible?

I can only say that Mr. Lackey and others are naive toward a swaying culture that says we change our moral convictions with a changing world. This is wrong in my view. God NEVER changes.

There will not be apologies from the Christian community who believe in the authority of Scripture. There will be apologies from Christians to the Lord for not taking a stand.

Nancy Gausman - Morris, Minn.

Twin Cities companies seek to influence 12A

You may be receiving election mailers like I am. Look at the mailer to see who is paying for it. The last two for Scott Dutcher, and against Jay McNamar, were put out by Minnesota's Future PAC which had $475,000 put up by six big companies from the Twin Cities as of Sept. 18, 2012. Why do these companies want to trash Jay McNamar?

I know Jay McNamar, and he is an excellent candidate who will work for us, our schools, and cities he has been serving for over 35 years.

Don't base your vote on attack material paid for by big companies from outside our district that have their own agenda. Why do you think that PAC is trying to buy the District 12A seat?  It think it's because McNamar will work for our district and not the agenda of the big companies.

If you know and like Alexandria attorney Scott Dutcher, then vote for him, but not because of these negative ads from outside the district.

If you want a 12A Representative in St. Paul with a proven record as a teacher, mayor, and civic volunteer who understands and cares for our rural communities, then vote for Jay McNamar.

Chris Mitchell - Elbow Lake, Minn.

Don't be shamed into supporting gay marriage

Recently Professor Lackey has been pedaling shame to get readers to vote down the protection of marriage amendment. He pointed to a few who destroyed "vote no" signs, and tried to "guilt" every straight person into voting no to make things right.

Last week he equated "good Christians" with general social customs regarding age, how marriages were arranged, or with racist attitudes. That was a shameful trick to lead readers toward a wrong conclusion. Even with the examples offered, none of them departed from the heart of marriage: 1 man and 1 woman consenting to, committing themselves to each other for life.

I wouldn't expect an unbeliever to understand what a "good Christian" is: one who trusts in Jesus as their Savior, who hears God's Word and keeps it, for it is eternal truth. Christians are to share God's Word with everyone, to warn them of sin and its consequences, and to call on them to believe in the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. It is not a shameful thing to speak the truth in love, and there is no need to apologize to anyone for doing so. Vote "yes."

Pastor Donald Main - Morris, Minn.

Westrom uses common sense on tax issues

In three weeks the voters in Senate District 12 will be electing a new state senator. Deciding who to vote for is always difficult, but the correct choice is Torrey Westrom.

The first time I met Torrey he was out campaigning for State Representative. He seemed young, but I was impressed with his convictions and family values. Torrey understood the issues facing our area. He promised if elected, the people he represented would be his main concern while in St. Paul.

That was sixteen years ago. Torrey continues to be one of Minnesota's most effective rural representatives. He has worked in a bipartisan manner for programs like JOBZ and funding for LGA that benefit out-state Minnesota. In Morris, he has backed bonding programs that have helped UMM expand and he has supported the WCROC. Both are world class. Torrey has fought to keep regulations and permitting processes streamlined so our Ag producers and businesses can prosper and grow.

Torrey uses common sense on tax issues knowing you cannot over tax businesses and expect them to create jobs. Torrey Westrom will carry these rural values into the Senate and continue his reputation of being a caring and effective leader.

Mark McNally - Morris, Minn.

Westrom worked to protect life

As our State Representative, Torrey Westrom has fought hard to preserve the sanctity of human life. While chair of the House Civil Law Committee, Torrey helped pass bills that would have reduced the number of abortions in our state. One of those would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which many physicians believe unborn children begin to feel pain. He also stood up for our values by voting for a bill that prohibited taxpayer money from being used to provide abortions.

Torrey supported bills that would have put stricter requirements on abortion facilities and abortion drugs. One bill would have required abortion facilities, like other places that provide medical procedures, to be licensed by the state. This legislation came in response to a situation in Pennsylvania, who illegally performed late term abortions and caused a woman to overdose on painkillers. Another bill would have required a physician to be physically present when RU-486 was administered.

Sadly for our state, families and future children, these bills were vetoed by the governor.

Sylvester Uphus - Sauk Centre, Minn.

Dutcher hiding career?

Why is Scott Dutcher hiding the fact that he is a bankruptcy and divorce attorney?

Joe Kreisman - Morris, Minn. ­