The problems now facing America, from immigration to national security, have put U.S. Congressional candidate Brad Ellsworth (D) in a "fixing" mode, and he told the Greencastle Kiwanis that Washington D.C. is the place for that fix to start.
"I can't remember a time when there were more questions on more people's plates than there area now," Ellsworth told the Kiwanis during a luncheon meeting at Asbury Towers. "It's kind of like a punch in the gut. All of these issues start to turn in my stomach and make me want to fix them."
Health care and prescription medicines are the concerns he hears about most when visiting voters on the campaign trail, Ellsworth says, along with the war in Iraq and the ballooning deficit.
"There are more worries for people today than ever before," the current Vanderburg County Sheriff said.
As he concludes his second four-year term as sheriff, Ellsworth said he has focused on Congress as the next place he can make a difference for the people of Indiana.
"I've been trying to help people solve problems for 24 years. And I've made administrative decisions for the past eight years. I feel I've been a good steward of the public money for eight years," he said.
It's those two-plus decades as a police officer that he says have given him the experience to deal with a variety of public issues, and to make the hard decisions that might not be popular, but are best for citizens as a whole.
On the topic of illegal immigration, he says it is the word "illegal" that gives him a law enforcement attitude toward the problem. As sheriff, he has been the gatekeeper for a 500-person jail, so he knows that difficulties of handling wrong-doers.
On the other hand, locking up all of the illegal immigrants in the country is impractical, he said.
Ellsworth called for making employers more responsible in their hiring practices, and for greater border security. It is an issue, he said that Congress needs to debate to find a non-partisan solution. Both national parties now have such differing plans to handling illegal immigration that it is likely nothing will be accomplished during the coming session of Congress.
"You can't get work done when it all hinges on whether an 'R' said it or a 'D' said it," Ellsworth said, promoting non-partisan efforts.
That may be a naive position, he said, but he also feels Washington needs some folks who see past the lobbying and special interest groups who hold power on Capitol Hill.
The federal response to natural disasters also need to be fixed, Ellsworth agreed.
There is too much red tape built into federal aid, when the local agencies know what needs to be done and how to best accomplish recovery efforts.
As sheriff, Ellsworth had to deal with last year's devastating tornado that killed several people near Evansville and wiped out numerous homes. It was frustrating, he said, to watch as federal emergency management agents walked around examining the damage, but failed to get much accomplished.
Ellsworth's most recent visit to Putnam County was one of several he has made on the campaign trail. He is challenging incumbent Rep. John Hostettler for Indiana's Eighth District seat.