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2017-08-09 / Front Page

Gubernatorial Candidate Whitmer Visits Newberry

Gretchen Whitmer Gretchen Whitmer Gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer spent some time in the Upper Peninsula last week. Her visit included a stopover in Newberry at the Newberry News, as well as time with the Luce County Democratic Committee.

She had announced her intention to run for governor in the 2018 elections in early January of this year.

Whitmer is a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives serving for six years from 2000 to 2006. She then was elected to the Michigan Senate, where she served for eight years from 2006 to 2014, spending the last four years as the Senate Democratic Leader.

In May of 2016 Whitmer was selected by Michigan’s 30th Judicial Court judges to serve the remaining six months of outgoing Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III, whose term ended January 1.

She is 45 years old and is married to Marc Mallory; she has two daughters, while he has three sons.

Whitmer is a lifelong Michigander who grew up in the East Lansing and Grand Rapids areas. She went to Michigan State University and became an intern at the State Capitol.

“I really became interested and exited about public policy and understood why it was so important that our voices be heard,” she explained. “Everything changed after that.”

She then became active in politics, working for House Democrats when Dominic Jacobetti was head of appropriations, “so I got a really good education.”

Whitmer continued with her education, becoming a lawyer before serving as a Representative.

Whitmer wants to make Michigan schools into the top 10 educational system in the country. “For too long people have looked at education as an expense as opposed to an investment. We have really hurt our education system, which means we’ve hurt our kids’ ability to get the skills they need.

“We’ve got to support our teachers. Teachers have been demonized. Professional teachers are demoralized. Fewer and fewer people have been going into teaching. We’ve got to encourage bright people to go into the field of teaching.

She also believes that there needs to be a better way of funding for Michigan schools. “Any policy that’s as old as Proposal A needs to be looked at. We owe it to the taxpayers [and] we owe it to the kids in our schools. Does our policy make sense? Does this contract we’re in make sense for our needs today?

“We haven’t done that. I think the people deserve leaders who roll up their sleeves and do the work of asking those questions,” said Whitmer. “If the answer is no and it doesn’t make sense, then what’s the path forward? We’ve got to fund our schools. To go on with a system that’s never been scrutinized that was passed decades ago tells me that we’ve got some work to do.”

As for the infrastructure of Michigan’s roads and bridges, Whitmer says, “We’ve had a series of leaders who have not taken on the tough discussion of how do we go about rebuilding the state.

“There has been some investment, but there are places in the State where some of the roads are turning back to gravel. There are potholes that are ruining people’s cars. We need long-term solutions.

“Despite what the Governor and Legislature have passed, we have not seen a real comprehensive longterm solution yet in Michigan,” Whitmer insisted. “That’s not going to be an easy problem to solve, but it’s one that is absolutely critical for the safety of our families traveling in Michigan and also for businesses that are trying to move their goods.

“Look at the constant maintenance that’s required to keep the Mackinac Bridge solid, safe and healthy. That’s really what’s needed to keep all of our infrastructure safe and we’ve ignored it for a long time.”

“No matter what community you’re in, jobs are first and foremost on a lot of people’s minds,” Whitmer continued. “The sad truth is that the State that used to draw people from around the world because we had these great middle-class jobs, whether it was rebuilding infrastructure, building automobiles or in mining. There were so many plentiful jobs that paid you well enough that you could raise a family and afford to retire.

“Currently there are 90,000 jobs in the State in the skilled trades that are not filled. You could make a really good living, but the paths to that training have not been made clear to the people who are available.

“We’ve got great community colleges, ISDs and universities. We should be better utilizing those so that we can get skills training closer to communities across the State,” she concluded.

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