Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist discusses importance of upcoming election with Students For Biden

Sunday, October 25, 2020 - 12:43pm

The University of Michigan chapter of Students for Biden hosts Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II Friday afternoon. (Note: This photo was taken in January 2020, pre the COVID-19 pandemic)

The University of Michigan chapter of Students for Biden hosts Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II Friday afternoon. (Note: This photo was taken in January 2020, pre the COVID-19 pandemic) Buy this photo
Asha Lewis/Daily

The University of Michigan chapter of Students for Biden hosted Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II Friday afternoon. Gilchrist, an alum of the University, discussed the importance of the 2020 election on both a national and state level and the role of young people in the election. 

Prior to Gilchrist's speech, LSA sophomore Andrew Schaeffler, co-founder of the University’s chapter of Students for Biden, said he hoped the event, 11 days before the general election, would invigorate young voters. 

“I’m really looking forward to what the lieutenant governor has to say about being a young elected official,” Schaeffler said, “And hopefully to fire up the base, get everyone really hyped up.”  

During his remarks, Gilchrist said the 2020 election is a “turning point,” one that puts the spotlight on young voters. Gilchrist, 38, also referenced his own relative youth as a politician.

“I believe that students need to be the ones who truly leave their mark on this election, and choose the direction that we move forward in,” Gilchrist said, “As still a relatively young person in public service, one of the things I hate hearing is older people dismissing the power of young people and electoral process. It is the most annoying and frustrating thing.” 

Gilchrist said this election is also important on the state level, especially in regards to climate change. He said the state needs to cut emissions by 2025 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

“We need allies in the legislature, so that’s why we need to flip the Michigan House,” Gilchrist said. 

The Michigan Supreme Court blocked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from continuing to extend her emergency powers in early October. To replace Whitmer’s executive orders, Michigan Republicans recently released their plan, which calls for coronavirus restrictions on a county-to-county basis. 

Gilchrist said the new Republican plan is misguided because it would allow localities to opt out of public health guidelines.

“(Michigan Republicans) don’t understand that public health doesn’t work that way,” Gilchrist said. “Pandemics don’t work that way. Viruses don’t respect municipal boundaries.”

Gilchrist said it is particularly important for Michigan voters to look carefully at whom they elect to the state Supreme Court.

“We will be able to have protections for our values, and of course I’m aware of ultimately where all this stuff is going to be fought,” Gilchrist said. “There’s been so many lawsuits filed this year, and we need to make sure that our guys represent on the court in the biggest way possible.”

One student asked Gilchrist what parts of former Vice President Joe Biden’s platform he was most excited for. Gilchrist said he most liked Biden’s plans for climate change, which he hoped would create new jobs, and for racial equality, which he hoped would eliminate cash bail and expunge felony records for certain crimes. 

Engineering freshman Satvik Nagpal, member of Students for Biden, said he thought the event was a helpful effort by Gilchrist to reach out to University students. 

“It energized us to see that our efforts are paying off,” Nagpal said. “It also gave context to what a Biden victory would look like specifically for Michiganders.” 

LSA sophomore Kenneth Larson, director of research and operations for the University’s chapter of Students for Biden, said he appreciated the opportunity to hear directly from an elected official in Michigan.

“One of my initial impressions of (Gilchrist) was that he was an incredibly inspirational speaker, but to be able to hear him speak to a bunch of students, he came across as much more down to earth than I thought he would,” Larson said. “I think that he has an unparalleled ability to connect to young voters, especially college students.”

Daily News Contributor Daniel Muenz can be reached at muenzda@umich.edu.

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