“It’s been a long time since Michiganders have had someone in their corner, and these are the things I hear everywhere I go.”

Gubernatorial candidate Whitmer hosts town hall

Gretchen Whitmer, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, held a town hall with students and community members at General Lectures to discuss her platform and answer any questions on Nov. 29.

“People are engaged in a way we haven’t seen in a long time,” Whitmer said before opening the floor to questions.

She said in her opening remarks that she has seen encouraging turnouts across the state. However, some Republicans and independents are fed up.

People want in a governor someone that will “level with them instead of giving them false choices and someone who is going to fight for our aspirations instead of managing our expectations,” she said.  

Whitmer said her big concerns boil down to “dinner table issues” such as education, higher wages and making government work for people again.

“It’s been a long time since Michiganders have had someone in their corner, and these are the things I hear everywhere I go,” Whitmer said.

Julie Campbell Bode, a volunteer for Whitmer’s campaign, said this election is crucial.

“The position of governor is so critical in terms of determining the budget, and I believe that [Whitmer] has not just the experience but the values that I share to make sure that the budget reflects those values and principles,” said Julie Campbell Bode, a volunteer for Whitmer’s campaign.

As the Democratic leader for Michigan Senate, Whitmer introduced the Michigan 2020 Plan in 2012 which she hopes to pursue as governor.

This plan would make Michigan high school graduates eligible for free tuition at universities or community colleges within the state. From this plan, higher education would be paid for through the closure of corporate loopholes.

“It’s criminal that we are putting that much debt on young people getting the degrees that we all benefit from in the state,” said Whitmer.

Whitmer discussed the “brain drain” in Michigan caused by college students and young people leaving the state to find jobs.

“I’ve got daughters who are in high school right now, and I want them to want to make their lives here in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “I want you to want to make your life here in Michigan.”

Ryan Sohizad, a biology major, said he was impressed at the town hall.

“I feel like her viewpoints, her plan and what she wants to do for high education is very important for the state and for all of us,” Sohizad said.

Whitmer said one of the ways to get people to stay and live in a city like Detroit is improving the regional public transportation system.

Sohizad said, “In a city in Detroit, it’s huge. There’s no way you can get to the city of Detroit without a car.”

Whitmer also spoke about Michigan’s immense natural resource: fresh water.

“I think that we have been lousy stewards of water,” she said.

She also touched on Flint’s water crisis and how there are communities in Michigan who may never be able to trust that their tap water is safe and clean again.

“What if we harness the talent at our research universities, the brains in Michigan, the water in Michigan and make us become world leaders in water management and stewardship?” Whitmer said. “What if we were the ones inventing smarter ways of managing water, to cleaning water and improving access to water?”

Whitmer closed the town hall by encouraging people to vote and run for office in Michigan.

“You could walk into that capital now and do a lot better than some of the people there,” said Whitmer.

Whitmer will face off in a primary election for Democratic nominee on Aug. 7, 2018, with the general election being Nov. 6, 2018.

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