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New year brings a new state governor

Government teacher shares her opinion on the governor-elect

A couple of friends sit on a couch one evening. Laughter crowds the living room as the TV show pauses for commercials.

“It’s time to fix the damn roads.” The friends imitate the funny scene and continue to laugh. As the joke wears out, they return to the TV screen.

Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer is set to take office on Jan. 1. The Democrat won the governor’s race against Republican candidate Bill Schuette by a spread of about 400,000 votes. Whitmer was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives in 2006 before being elected to the Michigan Senate, on which she served for nine years, four as the Minority Leader. Now, Whitmer is excited to take office.

“Governor-elect Whitmer is excited to get to work. There are a limited number of days between now and the inauguration, and right now she’s focused on building a strong foundation so she can hit the ground running on day one,” Whitmer’s transition office wrote in a response to an interview request.

Government teacher shares her opinion on the governor-elect Whitmer made it clear during her campaign that one of her focuses was improving Michigan roads. She also discussed other topics of focus during her campaign such as education, health care, and the Flint water crisis.

“The Governor-elect has a clear set of priorities going into January 1, including fixing the roads, improving education and skills training, making health care more affordable, and cleaning up our drinking water,” the response continued.

Those clear focuses were one of the reasons Whitmer was a popular choice. She ran on issues that many people in Michigan, like social studies teacher Hannah Cappelletti, could side with and get behind “By the Michigan voters electing her as easily as she did win, I think that also sent a loud message that we want to get our roads fixed,” Cappelletti said. The roads weren’t the only issue that stuck with voters. The Flint water crisis has been a problem since 2014. What started with a couple boil advisories has led to thousands of homes without access to drinkable water. “I believe that it’s great that Gretchen Whitmer ran on the premise that all citizens have a human right to clean drinking water,” said Cappelletti. “I think that that’s definitely the message from all of Michiganders that we the people care about our Flint residents.” Whitmer additionally introduced some proposals during her campaign t o i mp rove the education Michigan. Her proposed policies include starting universal preschool and implementing two years of debt-free postsecondary education or skills training for teens after high school.

“Her philosophy is that we can help the most people by supporting public education, which is the best way to bring everybody up in society, to give everyone an equal footing and opportunity to hit the ground running when they graduate from high school,” said Cappelletti.

As for actually putting these policies in place, Whitmer is ready to cooperate with anyone to better the lives of Michiganders. Democrats have gained control of the Michigan House of Representatives this past election, while Republicans keep control of the Michigan Senate.

According to her transition team, Whitmer “has a real record of reaching across the aisle to solve problems. As governor, she’s ready to work with everyone who wants to get things done for the people of Michigan.”

Whitmer is going to need to work with the members of the state Congress to achieve her vision. There has to be a bipartisan effort. If there is, Capalletti noted, Whitmer is likelier to be effective in getting things done for Michiganders.

“I think it’s going to depend on how well she works with the legislature,” said Cappelletti. “I like to see politicians who are willing to bend and willing to be moderate enough to get an improvement, even if it’s not exactly the perfect policy that they’re shooting for. If we can improve the situation overall, then a compromise is not a dirty word.”

Said Cappelletti, “she’s got some generalized policies that I think that any Michigan citizen would agree with. We can all agree that our roads can be improved. We can all agree that fresh water is a human right, so I think she will be effective. I’m excited.”

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