(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

Front-runner gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer, D-MI, was the featured guest at the Shiawassee County Democratic Party’s Annual Picnic at DeVries Nature Conservancy on Tuesday evening, Aug. 22. Speaking to party members and guests, the former Minority Leader of the Michigan Senate shared, “I grew up in this state. I’ve spent my whole life in the Lansing area, and in Grand Rapids. I was raised in a household by a ‘Milliken Republican’ father and a ‘Frank Kelley Democratic’ mother. We had some interesting conversations in our house. What they both taught me is that we are at our best when we have people focusing on our problems in this state. When it is not politics as usual. We need to find our common ground and address the issues confronting our state.”

Whitmer grew up primarily in East Lansing where she was raised by Richard, who served under Governor William Milliken, and Sherry, who worked as an assistant attorney general to then Attorney General Frank Kelley. Whitmer, herself, went on to become a prosecuting attorney. She was first elected to the State Senate in 2006 and then eventually unanimously chosen by colleagues to be the Senate Democratic leader in 2010. In January of this year, she formally announced her plans to run for governor.

She expressed her passion for improving education by explaining, “There was a point in time when the public schools in Michigan offered our kids the finest education you could find. When, if you worked hard, you could get into a good paying job, afford to buy the car you needed, raise your family up, and retire with dignity in this state. When we lived up to our motto as the Great Lakes State. Right now, our education system is on the ropes. Lord knows, it is no fault of the teachers. The teachers are the only heroes in the education story. And the support staff. And the people in our schools that have dedicated their lives. But they need support from this state.”

“We need to be the state that has the most skilled workforce around,” said Whitmer. She went on to elaborate, “It is time for us to have universal early childhood education for everyone across this state. That we raise our teachers up and give them the support to help them be successful.”

When asked about wealthy political donors at the local and state level, Whitmer responded, “We need real campaign finance reform in Michigan. It’s long overdue. When I was the leader, the Republicans pushed through doubling the amount of contributions that can be given to a legislator.” She continued on with, “It’s disgusting how people are buying the legislature. The DeVos family owns the legislature. They have dictated ‘Right-to-Work,’ dictated eliminating the education commission to oversee schools in Detroit. When they want something, they get what they want.” Betsy DeVos, R-MI, is the current U.S. Secretary of Education. Her family is reported as having an estimated net worth well over $5 billion. Right-to-Work laws aid in limiting union security agreements and/or agreements between employers and labor unions in respect to union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Michigan has officially been a Right-to-Work state since 2013. Whitmer explained that she views Right-to-Work as a form of corporate servitude.

Previously, she had been asked why she was spending so much time in the ‘Trump’ part of the state. Whitmer replied, “Listen, Donald Trump won Michigan with fewer votes than George W. Bush lost Michigan to John Kerry. It’s not all of a sudden ‘Trump country.’ We are a state of people that want change and I think that’s what happened this last election. That, and a lot of people were not inspired to come out and vote. That’s what we got to get out and work on. We need to propose the change and inspire people to get out and be a part of the solution.”

Whitmer is endorsed by a number or organizations including the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, the Michigan State Utility Workers Council, and the Michigan Pipe Trades Association. Former Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelley, Democratic Senate Floor Leader Morris Hood III, Representative Pam Faris (Clio), and Senate Democratic Whip Curtis Hertel (East Lansing) are a few of the progressive leaders standing behind Whitmer.

She helped directly negotiate the Michigan Medicaid expansion, she’s committed to protecting the Great Lakes, and determined to fight anti-worker legislation. She resides in East Lansing with her husband and children.

More information is available at www.gretchenwhitmer.com.

Front-Runner Governor Candidate Whitmer Discusses Education was last modified: August 28th, 2017 by Karen Elford