Q&A with Governor Whitmer


Two out of the three Editor in Chiefs had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Governor–and FHC alumni–Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday. They, along with Hawk Herald editors and various news anchors, gathered around Whitmer and asked a few questions rapid-fire style. Guess which ones Abby and Ashlyn asked.

What was your response to President Trump coming out about vaping today?

“I was thrilled. I took a lot of heat from some when I came out with the ban last week, got a lot of praise from others, but I am absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do and am awfully glad that the Trump administration agrees.”

Do you think he’ll follow through with it?

“I hope so. The information is compelling about what it means for our kids’ safety, and his own surgeon general was one of the first to say, ‘hey, we’ve got a public crisis, here,’ so I think this is a very positive step, and I hope that people really take the moment to get educated about the dangers of this flavored vaping.”

You mentioned in your [speech] that the legislature took their summer break. What is your frustration level right now with the legislature and the clock ticking for the budget?

“I introduced the budget six months ago, right. We’ve had all this time that we could have been negotiating, and they took the summer off. I was in Lansing working all summer. Now, we have a very compressed timeline. There are always, you know, pull-ups that happen when a budget passes. They’ve left us very little room for negotiation here. I’m very confident we can work day and night to get this done, and my team and I are doing that, but it is unnecessary that we are in this position.”

How do you believe that FHC prepared you for your role as governor?

“You know, FHC was a really phenomenal place to grow up. I grew up in the Cascade part of the district. I had so many different opportunities; I got my first taste of broadcasting doing the news every morning when I was a senior in high school here. It really gave me the confidence and intellectual curiosity that has helped me navigate my way to being governor.”

Previously you said that you would not pass a budget that didn’t include funding for the roads. Now, you’re agreeing with the Republican-controlled legislature and are passing a budget that does not include long-term road funding. Why did you flip on this commitment to Michiganders?

“So, I said I wanted a budget that has a road solution in it. I think that the budget I wrote has a road solution and puts us in the position to prioritize education, cleaning drinking water, you know closing the skills gap in Michigan. And yet, the Republican legislature did not want to get serious about a real plan to fund the roads. They were running the clock out and putting everything else that we need to do in Michigan in jeopardy—the education of our young people to cleaning up our drinking water to taking care of our veterans. I’m not willing to put people’s lives in jeopardy because they’re not serious about getting a real road plan done at this time. But, we’re going to keep working on it. They have committed to do that; our work has yet to come, but we’re not done.”

Many have voiced their concerns about the emergence of the black market for flavored nicotine products. What are your thoughts on this?

“An interesting thing happened today. The president decided to also embrace the ban on flavored vape products. While I was the first and made Michigan the leader, we’re now seeing the state of New York following getting these dangerous products out of the marketplace.”

When you were a student at FHC did you know you wanted to go into this field?

“I had no idea. I thought I was going to be a sports broadcaster. [I] went to Michigan State, worked in the football office, was in a communications program and I did an internship at the capital and kind of became enamored with public policy and debate and politics. I never knew that was going to be my path.”