SVSU hosted a Gubernatorial town hall meeting with three candidates running for governor of Michigan.
The event was hosted on Monday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall Seminar Rooms D and E. Republican candidates Jim Hines, Patrick Colbeck and Brian Calley were present for the event, where they answered questions from the moderators and the audience.
Moderators consisted of members of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce, Bay City Chamber of Commerce and SVSU, all of whom sponsored the event.
Colbeck is a current Michigan senator, but he has also worked for Boeing as a senior design engineer and has a background in aerospace engineering.
Calley is the current Lieutenant Governor of Michigan and served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011.
Hines is a practicing OB-GYN in Saginaw and a small business owner. He has no experience in politics, which is a key reason he believes voters should consider his candidacy.
The first panel question pertained to road repairs in Michigan and a 2015 tax increase to fix those roads.
“We don’t really know when the roads are going to get fixed,” Hines said. “People in this state are convinced that the roads are never going to be fixed. So, in 2015, we decided to fix the roads, but the total phase-in isn’t until 2021, when $1.2 billion is available to fix the roads. … I’m frustrated. This is politics 101. This was not putting people first. Why not decide to fix the roads and actually start fixing the roads? We haven’t done that.”
One audience member later asked how the candidates felt about proposed Michigan legislation to change the state constitution to make university boards and presidents government-appointed, as opposed to being voted on by Michigan citizens.
The proposal came in the aftermath of Michigan State University’s Larry Nassar’s court cases.
“The Attorney General’s position on this is a result of what happened with Dr. Nassar, and the trustees were implicit on what was going on associated with the tragic occurrences going on there that went on for way too long,” Colbeck said. “Rather than take away the voice of the people in this case, I think it is important to empower the voice of the people.”
Another audience member asked about each candidate’s stance on the opioid addiction crisis in Michigan.
“Addiction steals lives, steals opportunities, steals futures,” Calley said. “I’ve seen the most promising of futures be destroyed and taken away. We need to stop looking at addiction as a character issue when it’s biology. We need to stop acting like any of us are too good to become addicted. Half of the people who use heroin today started on prescription drugs. So we can go ahead and check the judgment at the door and recognize that anybody can become addicted.”
Other questions pertained to public education goals, auto insurance rates, dumping fees, bridge repairs in Saginaw County and more.
Many SVSU students were in attendance for the event, including history senior Cameron Bruneau.
“I came out because (I’m part of) the College Republicans,” Bruneau said. “These are some of the candidates for governor. They came to our school, so we wanted to give them an audience. I am glad I came out. It’s really important to stay involved in your community, and staying involved in state and local politics is a great way to have your voice heard.”
Exercise science senior Malachi Nelson also found the event stimulating.
“Some of the candidates were clearer than others,” Nelson said. “We started talking about the opioid epidemic and infrastructure, and those two are so basic and so important to who we are as people, and the candidates had good answers for those questions.”