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March 20, 2011 - 4:34pm

Rick Snyder addresses students and residents at Washtenaw town hall forum


Rick Snyder, a Republican candidate for Michigan governor and University alum, took the stage at a town hall meeting last night at Cobblestone Farms on Packard Road to a rumbling round of applause from more than 250 attendees.

At the event, Snyder outlined the major problems he sees with Michigan’s current government, which he said has “a fundamental lack of leadership.”

“We don’t have a plan. We don’t have a vision. We are not being active,” he said. “We need to reinvent Michigan.”

Snyder also discussed the current state of Michigan’s economy and high unemployment rate — calling the two problems a “disaster.”

If elected governer, Snyder said he intends to implement a “Top 10-Plan” in which one of the fundamental aspects includes keeping young adults in the state.

In an interview prior to the event, Snyder said the lack of employment opportunites is the main problem facing college graduates in Michigan.

“We just don’t have jobs,” he said.

He said another reason recent graduates and young professionals are leaving Michigan is because they are being lured to other attractive cities like Chicago.

“Young people in particular are looking for an urban quality of life,” he said, adding that Michigan doesn’t have “great places” that provide an “urban experience.”

As far as engaging the youth demographic in his campaign, Snyder said he is utilizing social media.

“We’re trying to leverage that in a positive way, and get people involved and active,” he said.

At the event, LSA senior Vincent Patsy asked the first question of the evening. Patsy questioned Snyder’s affiliation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation — which facilitates programs and incentives to bring new companies to Michigan.

Snyder said he felt the MEDC had lost its way and added that “idea of using incentives to drive business development, is wrong.”

Others at the meeting asked economic-based questions, and many questioned how Snyder would use a business model to revamp the legislature. One man, who claimed to be a devout Catholic, asked Snyder’s opinion on abortion — to which Snyder avoided answering.

“As a practical matter, social issues are not on my agenda,” Snyder replied. “We need to come together and focus on putting our economy back together.”

In an interview after the meeting, Patsy said he thought Snyder gave a “good speech.”

“I had seen Rick Snyder before…and tonight it really wowed me more when he talked about the MEDC,” he said.

LSA senior Julian Lizzio attended the event and said he was not as impressed with Snyder’s speech.

“I was looking for someone with a little more principles behind it,” Lizzio said.

Lizzio added that he is looking for a candidate that promotes limited governmental intervention.

“He’s looking at all these things the government can do, but if he had said, ‘The government’s going to stop doing everything,’ then I would have been like, great!’ But with all of these proposals…I’m not sure if that’s the right way to go,” Lizzio said.

During his speech, Snyder said he supports a government that doesn’t intervene, but instead, follows a customer-service model.

He added that if state representatives were buisness employees, Michigan citizens would have fired them a long time ago.

“We deserve better,” he said.