OTTUMWA, Iowa – Republican Cherielynn Westrich defeated incumbent State Rep. Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, to represent Iowa House District 81 when the Iowa Legislature gavels in Monday.
Iowa House District 81 makes up the southeast half of Wapello County, including Ottumwa, Agency, and Eldon.
“I decided to run because I just saw a need for someone that would work harder,” Westrich told The Iowa Torch. “ I think that our community, we need economic development, we need housing, we need jobs. And I feel like I’m the person that can help to bring those things to Wapello County.”
Westrich owns a small business in Ottumwa that makes hydraulic clutch pedal kits. “That stems from my career as a car builder. I’ve been a car builder my whole life, and I restore old cars, anything pre-70s. And so with that, I developed a new clutch pedal kit,” she said.
Westrich says she keeps everything local so that her manufacturing company is completely Iowa-based.
“It’s a great small company, a small business here in Iowa, which is one thing that is important to me is to support small business. Not only because I am a business owner, but because that’s how you grow communities I believe is to grow small businesses, help to grow your big businesses, and just work as a community,” she said.
Westrich is on the board of directors of the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. She said that supporting the arts and sciences in her community is extremely important to her.
She also volunteers with the Heartland Humane Society’s shelter walking dogs and even fixing their van.
“I just try to support people who are doing good in the community,” Westrich said. “And I think in Ottumwa there is a broad spectrum, there is a lot of people out there volunteering and getting things done.”
She also helped bring a car show to Ottumwa that is going on its third year. She said last summer’s show brought about $40,000 into the community, and they plan to expand the car show to two days.
Westrich was selected to be the vice-chair for the Iowa House Public Safety Committee. She said she is going to look for ways to support local law enforcement and first responders.
She also wants to focus on parental choice in education.
Westrich also will serve on the Commerce, Judiciary, and Local Government committees.
“There’s going to be so much going on. We’ve got a big majority, we’ve got 59 members in the Republican caucus this year. So I think this is going to be a year when we can really hunker down and get things accomplished,” she concluded.