8-18 Media: Executive Q & A

Governor makes time for youth journalists

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist are shown with the members of 8-18 Media at the U.P. Children’s Museum in Marquette. (8-18 Media photo)

Story and photo by 8-18 Media
This past February, Michigan’s newly elected governor, Gretchen Whitmer, hosted a February Warm-Up party at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. The Whitmer warm-up was held Feb. 16 and was free for area families to come out to meet Gov. Whitmer. It’s certainly not every day that a political figure visits the museum and the 8-18 Media Bureau, so of course, 8-18 Media took full advantage of the situation and reached out to Whitmer’s public relations people to request a one-on-one interview with the governor.
At first, 8-18 Media was told that they would be placed with the other local media outlets that were covering the event and that we might be able to ask the governor a question. However, it turned out that 8-18 Media was granted a five-minute exclusive interview with the governor.
The day of the interview the museum was busy with Whitmer’s team who came in and prepped the museum for the event. They were prepared for a large crowd and security was an important issue. A state trooper on security detail was posted directly outside of the 8-18 Media Bureau, and other security team members were posted elsewhere around the museum. It felt very official. The governor had arrived. Our interview time was scheduled to be at 1 p.m. but luckily our team assembled over an hour early to prep for the interview, because at a little after noon we were alerted that the interview was going to happen immediately. We were escorted to the press area where we waited for the other local media outlets to ask Gov. Whitmer a few questions. 8-18 Media used our precious few minutes of interview time with Gov. Whitmer to ask her questions on her proposed policies that would affect the lives of Upper Michigan youth: safer driving laws, affordable education and how to better to protect the Great Lakes for future generations.

8-18 Media: Because of the dangers of distracted driving, such as texting, why do you think it is important for Michigan to become the 17th state to adopt a hands-free driving law?

Gov. Whitmer: Because I want to make sure that our young drivers are safe, that our families who are crisscrossing our state and our businesses know that Michigan is a safe place to be on the roads and we know the biggest killer of young people is car accidents. So, if we can make you a little safer on the road that is my goal. How old are you? 13, 14? You are getting ready to drive so by the time you do, I want to make sure that you are even safer on the roads.

8-18 Media: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Michigan’s youth today?

Gov. Whitmer: I think making sure that when you graduate you are on a path to skills that will help you get you a job that you like. Every one of you is different and every one of you wants to do different things as you grow up, so we have to make sure that whether you go into the skilled trades or a four-year degree or a community college that it is affordable and that you know how to get on that path, because you can make a really good life here in Michigan in any of those paths, but we have to make sure you know about them.

8-18: In your opinion is there more that can be done to protect our Great Lakes?

Gov. Whitmer: Absolutely. One of the things that happened right after I won the election was I was invited to go out and meet with Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., and when I was there, one of the things I brought up was invasive species: Asian Carp and all of the problems we are having as far as foreign species coming into the Great Lakes and changing the ecosystem. I know we can erect a barrier that keeps that from happening, but it requires working with other Great Lakes states and that’s something I’m already at work to do.

8-18: The proposed Michigan Opportunity Scholarship would help provide college tuition assistance to many high school graduates. Do you think this scholarship will encourage more Michigan graduates to attend college and why?

Gov. Whitmer: I hope that what it does is make sure that people who want to attend college can afford to do it. Right now, the cost of a four-year degree is about $22,000 a year, which means a lot of people can’t even afford it. They don’t even try. If that is affordable, I believe that more Michigan students are going to want to take that on. Maybe go on to a debt-free community college degree. Maybe go into the trades. Like I said there are many paths, but in Michigan, if you are willing to put in the work, we are going to make it affordable so that you pursue whatever path is right for you.

8-18 Media had prepared several more questions for Gov. Whitmer, but due to time constraints and her very busy schedule, we were only allotted the four questions. After the official interview, Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist took the time to pose with 8-18 Media’s youth reporters for several photos. Gov. Whitmer high-fived the youth reporters and commented that the youth reporters’ questions were better than the adult journalists’ questions. We’ll high-five to that.

(By Annabella Martinson, 14, with contributions by Justice Kratz, 17, Anja McBride, 14, Lucy Bartlett, 14, Liam Ulland-Joy, 14, Ava Larson, 13, Althea Schalow, 12, Alex Larkin, 11, Audrey Lyons, 12, Esme Ulland-Joy, 10, and Ana Alexander, 10.)

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