EDITORIAL: Gretchen Whitmer is the best candidate for CMU students
Michigan has a big decision to make in the Nov. 6 general election.
Two strong, but very different, candidates are contending to be Michigan's next governor — Gretchen Whitmer and Bill Schuette. Both candidates have political experience and strong support from their parties.
With the election only now just days away, there is a constant onslaught of political ads, rallies and media coverage telling you who you should vote for. That decision can feel overwhelming, especially for young people and college students who might be voting for the very first time.
Media coverage and campaign endorsements tend to focus on issues like pension and tax cuts, which don't resonate with young people. We care about reducing college debt, having clean drinking water, equal pay and protecting reproductive rights.
We want a governor who pays attention to us and the issues we truly care about. That is why we endorse Gretchen Whitmer as the candidate who best represents the interests of young Michiganders.
"Fix the damn roads!"
Anyone who is familiar with Whitmer's campaign has heard this phrase. As a born-and-raised Michigander, Whitmer shares the same everyday frustration that we do about the poor quality of state roads. Improving Michigan's roads and bridges is one of her first priorities. In fact, her plan 'Getting it Done: Rebuild Michigan' details how she wants to "dig less and build smarter," so that after initial repairs, Michigan roads will hopefully need less reconstruction over time. She has said time and time again that Michigan residents deserve faster and safer commutes.
Whitmer believes investing in infrastructure is a direct investment in improving Michigan's economy. That includes prioritizing our drinking water. During the Flint Water Crisis, Whitmer spoke out against Gov. Rick Snyder's administration and the lack of action taken to provide clean water to citizens in need. Her infrastructure plan emphasizes speeding up the process of replacing all lead service lines across the state.
Whitmer, unlike her opponent, has also strongly advocated shutting down Line 5. "As Governor, I will immediately file to enjoin the easement and begin the legal process to decommission Line 5, and anything short of that is insincere," Whitmer said in November 2017.
Decommissioning Line 5 will help protect our Great Lakes and our future.
Whitmer is an active women's rights advocate and has made it clear throughout her campaign that women's rights will be a priority in her role as governor.
Michigan women, on average, earn 74 cents for every dollar Michigan men earn. Whitmer plans to eliminate that gap and turn our state "into a model state for equality." It's about time Michigan men and women earned the same pay for the same work.
She has consistently fought for women throughout her political career. The day after President Donald Trump's inauguration, Whitmer rallied more than 9,000 people at the Capitol in Lansing to protest "Trump's attacks against women."
As Senate Democratic leader, Whitmer fought against Republicans' regressive women's health care laws, such as the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. On the state legislature floor, Whitmer even shared her own story of sexual assault to speak up for the women she felt were being violated by this act.
If Whitmer is Michigan's governor, sexual assault survivors will be given a voice.
Whitmer served as Ingham County Prosecutor in 2016, after the former prosecutor resigned. As prosecutor, she established a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit designed to go after abusers and asked the Michigan State Police to investigate the integrity of the county’s evidence room.
Dedicated to defending women's rights to make their own decisions for their bodies, Whitmer's plan, 'Getting It Done: Protecting Roe v. Wade in Michigan' details how she will protect and expand reproductive rights. She wants to ensure access to abortion and contraception and fix our inadequate sexual education laws.
As Michigan's next governor, Whitmer plans to reform public education by providing "quality education from cradle to career." In her education plan, Whitmer details how she will "phase in" quality universal pre-school in Michigan. In addition to tripling the number of state literacy coaches, Whitmer plans to give schools more counselors, social workers, school nurses, school security, nutritious meals and safe transportation.
While that may not directly affect most college students, we will begin to care about those things when we have children in the next several years. If Whitmer is governor, ensuring our children receive attentive quality education will be a priority.
Additionally, Whitmer plans to create the MI Opportunity Scholarship, which is essentially a two-year, debt-free plan that will help to ensure high school graduates receive well-paying jobs, whether college is the right choice for them or not. The MI Opportunity Scholarships could potentially be used at skilled training programs, community colleges and four-year universities.
Attorney General Bill Schuette is not the type of candidate who appeals to young voters. He doesn't seem interested in talking about the issues facing our generation. We need a candidate who is passionate about the changes they want to make, not one who says his plan is 1) Get elected, followed by 2) Figure it out.
Schuette would be the kind of governor who is focused on helping businesses not families. He's interested in providing tax breaks for high income people, rather than providing student loan debt relief.
Schuette's campaign is the voice of the past. Whitmer's is the voice of the future.
Remember, no matter who you vote for, make sure to go vote on Nov. 6.