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Kitchen-Table Priorities

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Eyeing a Second Term

It has been over five years since then-candidate Gretchen Whitmer filed to run to succeed then-Governor Rick Snyder in January 2017. After a successful 22-month campaign that largely revolved around the mantra “fix the damn roads,” the incumbent governor is eyeing re-election with a focus on “kitchen-table” issues as a pandemic weary state enters a gubernatorial election year amid historic nationwide inflation with a crowded Republican field of up to 10 candidates.

The race is ramping up following three legislative years largely defined by the pandemic and political polarization that were ironically book-ended by signature bipartisan wins – the signing of the no-fault auto insurance legislation at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference and passage of over $1 billion in economic incentives through the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) package. She connected with the Detroiter magazine to discuss economic competitiveness, democracy, and her priorities if re-elected.

After the passage of the SOAR package, what is the key to increasing Michigan’s economic competitiveness?

I was so proud that we were able to come together to enact historic, bipartisan economic development legislation in December that helped us land a $7 billion investment from GM – the largest in their history – creating 4,000 jobs and retaining 1,000 more just a month later. The SOAR package gave Michigan the economic tool kit it needed to compete for every dollar and every job, andsupport economic development in every region. We have plenty of projects in the pipeline and are well-positioned to continue growing our economy. In addition to these tools, we must continue investing in our greatest resource – our workers. It’s why we have set up and continued funding workforce development programs to help people get on paths to high-skill, good-paying jobs.

Transit plays a critical role in increasing social mobility and economic equity. Do you think Southeast Michigan will be able to finally create a comprehensive connected regional transit?

The Building Michigan Together Plan I signed in March invests $645 million into our transit infrastructure, including $66 million to improve our public transportation. While most regional transit decisions are up to local governments, I will continue working to support public transportation for all Michiganders. I’m hopeful for a more comprehensive transit plan because of the Building Michigan Together Plan.

What do you think the key is to restoring faith in our democracy and elections?

Republicans and Democrats must work together to restore people’s faith in our democracy and elections. This is evident right here in Michigan, since taking office I have signed over 800 bipartisan bills that have helped all Michiganders and I’ll continue to work with anyone who wants to work on solving kitchen-table issues for Michigan residents. However, we are working to build trust by ensuring transparency in state government and upholding fair elections. I’ve established clear guidelines, policies, and ethical standards for state employees.

How close will the funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Rebuilding Michigan plan get our state to “fixing the damn roads”?

Since I took office, we have fixed over 13,000 lane miles of road and replaced 900 plus bridges, supporting 82,000 jobs, and we are just getting started. My Rebuilding Michigan Plan is investing $3.5 billion over a five-year period into dozens of projects. These investments are complemented with additional funding from the Building Michigan Together Plan. Both plans ensure that Michigan’s roadways will be rebuilt and rebuilt properly with the right mix of materials so they stay fixed and with skilled workers paid a prevailing wage so taxpayers get the best value for their money.

As you think about a second term, what is your top priority if re-elected?

I’m focused on the issues that matter most to Michiganders including fixing our roads and bridges, ensuring access to clean water, and investing in every kid and school. If I am elected to a second term, I will continue to work with anyone to grow our economy, create good-paying jobs, and deliver on the kitchen-table issues. Tough times call for tough people, and we’ve been through a lot together. I am more optimistic than ever about the future and I can’t wait to keep getting things done.

“I’m focused on the issues that matter most to Michiganders including fixing our roads and bridges, ensuring access to clean water, and investing in every kid and school.”