Gubenatorial candidate Thanedar visits CMU, discusses his plan if elected in 2018

Gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar speaks on March 21 in Anspach Hall.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Shri Thanedar, visited Central Michigan University hosted by College Democrats to talk about his progressive campaign March 21 in Anspach Hall.

The India-born liberal candidate spoke about investing in Michigan’s education system, restoring Michigan’s infrastructure and his strong background in business, calling himself the “fiscally savvy Bernie Sanders.”

Having no political experience, Thanedar entered the race for governor in June 2017, about five months after the other democratic candidates, Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed and William Cobbs. 

Thanedar grew up in poverty in India. He came to the United States in 1979 to further his education in science and create his own American dream. 

After leading a few successful businesses, he sold his latest business, Avomeen Analytical Services, to campaign full time. He has invested $6 million of his own money and has pledged not to accept money from corporate political action committees. 

“I’m doing this because I’m passionate,” Thanedar said. “And I’m having a great time.”

Thanedar calls his campaign “surging” as he has gained 58,000 followers on Facebook in a short amount of time, and has jumped in the polls. He is currently the only democratic candidate who advertises on television.

At this point in the race, he considers it to be a two-person race between himself and Whitmer. He believes there are significant differences between them -- emphasizing his leadership and problem-solving skills. 

“I come in with a fresh mind – this is not my career,” Thanedar said. “I don’t need this job to make my resume look good. So, I come in with a very different perspective.”

Thanedar’s No. 1 goal as governor of Michigan is to invest in the school systems all the way from pre-K to higher education. He said he sees a disconnect between the education systems and what the Michigan market place needs in terms of skilled and educated employees. 

“The only way to get out of the status-quo is to invest in education,” Thanedar said. “I want to be the education governor that Michigan never had.”

His next plan of action, after education, would be Michigan’s infrastructure and roads, including replacing the lead pipes in Flint and Detroit. 

“The state owes (the people of Flint), and needs to take care of them,” Thanedar said. “And I will do that.”

During his presentation, Thanedar answered questions from various audience members, including Batavia, Illinois freshman Celia Millane.

Millane asked Thanedar about donating money to U.S. Senator John McCain’s campaign in 2008, and his claim to transparency. 

Thenadar replied that he had indeed donated about $2,300 to McCain’s campaign, while donating about $15,000 to Barack Obama’s. 

“You know the politicians -- you pay them to get access. You can’t talk to them,” Thanedar said. “I wanted to talk to McCain about immigration issues.”

Millane continued to ask questions, and their conversation became “awkward,” said West Bloomfield senior, Alex Crowe.

Thanedar eventually dismissed Millane as a “tracker,” or opponent to his campaign, and stopped answering her questions, directing her to his website. 

“It was a little frustrating because he assumed I was working for another campaign,” Millane said. “When in reality I was just trying to understand the policies behind it because I want to be an educated voter.”

Houghton junior, Brianne Hiltunen didn’t originally plan on attending to the event, but she enjoyed it more than she thought she would. She spoke on behalf of the upper peninsula and asked Thanedar about how he would represent the northern most part of Michigan. 

“I’m going to do some more research, but I like him,” Hiltunen said. “I like the way he answered most of the questions. He seems transparent.”