Gubernatorial candidates discuss pertinent topics

Whitmer and Schuette appeared separately for a discussion at Business Luncheon

By Ashourina Slewo

The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce hosted their 13th annual Business Luncheon on October 19. Hosted at the Sound Board at the MotorCity Casino Hotel again this year, the annual event is a celebration “showcasing businesses and communities from the Chaldean American and partner communities.”

Charlie Langton and Democratic candidate, Gretchen Whitmer.

Charlie Langton and Democratic candidate, Gretchen Whitmer.

Moderated by Fox 2 News legal analyst Charlie Langton, this year’s panel discussion featured gubernatorial candidates, former senator Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General, Bill Schuette. Both took questions from Langton and the audience; however, they appeared separately and did not interact with each other.

Taking the stage first was Democratic candidate Whitmer.

Throughout the discussion Whitmer and Schuette discussed their differences, both in policies and beliefs, simultaneously dubbing the other as the wrong choice for the position of Michigan’s governor.

From roads and deportations to education and minimum wage, a variety of topics were discussed.

When asked whether or not she would as governor consider pardons for members of the community facing deportation, Whitmer said it is a possibility.

Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer

“I’ve already had some conversations with some friends who are immigration lawyers who are representing community members with no pay because they believe it is the right thing,” said Whitmer. “A lot of people who are being subjected to being sent to a country that is not their home anymore are in danger. The governor needs to use the bully pulpit to protect the people who call this state home. So, that is something I am open to and interested in pursuing.”

In agreement with Whitmer, Schuette stated that, “what we’re not going to do is send people back to a foreign country where they will be persecuted for their religious beliefs.”

Minimum wage has been a part of the national conversation for several years now and there has been a focus on it throughout Michigan.

“I support a $15 minimum wage,” said Whitmer. “I don’t know what the legislature is going to look like, but regardless, I want to work with the business community, small business in particular, to make sure we [implement a $15 minimum wage] in a manageable way.”

On the opposite end, Schuette stated he would maximize wages while his opponent would set mandated wages. “I believe in private enterprise. I believe in the private sector. I am going to maximize wages and Gretchen Whitmer wants to set and have mandated wages,” said Schuette.

As the state’s infrastructure continues to crumble and elected officials fail to implement a feasible solution, the roads have been a popular topic of discussion this election cycle.

“We are all paying today for bad roads. Whether you are paying because you are fixing your tires, or replacing windshields, or you are getting your car aligned,” explained Whitmer. “It is a dangerous situation and it is compromising our ability to bring investment to Michigan.”

Bill Schuette

Bill Schuette

“The fact is that the quality of our roads needs to be at the same level and the same quality as the cars we produce,” said Schuette. “I’ll call Elaine Chow, the secretary of transportation and advocate for more money coming back into Michigan.”

On the topic of education, Whitmer stressed the importance of improving it in a bipartisan way and making sure that the state of Michigan is “spending what it takes to educate our kids.”

Citing the state’s incredibly low reading scores, Schuette said his plans to improve education would start with appointing a literacy director.

Both Whitmer and Schuette agreed when it came to the elimination of the pension tax on retirement income by restoring an exemption that was eliminated in 2011.

Before taking questions from the audience, Langton asked both candidates how they would grade Governor Rick Snyder.

Whitmer opted to not do so, stating she has said a lot of good things about the governor, but that she did not agree with everything he did.

Schuette, however, commended Snyder, stating that he “has done a great job” as governor.