Whitmer, Dixon face off in final gubernatorial debate
Each candidate made a final pitch to voters on the big stage two weeks prior to Election Day.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (WLUC) - Incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Tudor Dixon (R) took to the stage at Oakland University for their second and final debate this election season.
Each candidate is looking to gather support in a tight race with Election Day coming on Nov. 8. Both candidates made 90-second opening statements before they were given 60 seconds to answer the same 14 questions. After answering, each candidate had the chance to rebut one another before they concluded with 90-second closing statements.
Gov. Whitmer kicked off opening statements calling for unity, claiming she would work across the political aisle to give Michigan residents what they want if re-elected.
“When we stay focused on what really matters it’s a lot easier to see that we all want the same things,” Whitmer said.
The governor continued, “Great jobs and great schools, safe roads and safe communities. As governor, I have worked across the aisle to make sure we are building a foundation for Michiganders to thrive for generations.”
Whitmer went on to taut her administration’s passing of a budget that increased education spending by $2.6 billion over 2021.
Republican Challenger Tudor Dixon used her opening statement to claim Gov. Whitmer’s first-term policies have not been for the best of the state.
“I’m running for governor because Gretchen Whitmer has taken us on the wrong track,” Dixon explained.
Dixon went on, “She has pushed a radical, social agenda and she hasn’t listened to the problems you have every single day. Radical agendas lead to dangerous things happening in the state. We’ve lost 82,000 jobs, we see our reading scores have plummeted, our graduation rates have dropped, our cities are less safe and the roads aren’t fixed.”
After opening, the candidates answered 14 of the same questions asked by the moderators. This included their takes on abortion rights, Proposal 3, green energy, retirement tax breaks, improving public schools, protecting schools from gun violence, book banning, infrastructure upgrades, no-fault insurance, COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for students, expanding broadband internet to the U.P. and how to curb the opioid epidemic.
Dixon claimed her plan to stop the flow of fentanyl and other drugs into places like the U.P. is to put $1 billion of additional funding into law enforcement.
“If we had more officers on the streets, we could be preventing a lot more overdose deaths,” Dixon claimed.
Dixon continued, “I want to make sure that we have the backs of our cops, we invest in our cops and we make sure they have what they need to fight this horrible scourge.”
Gov. Whitmer claimed to have a different approach to this problem. Whitmer said she has focused on giving people addicted to drugs the resources they need to get clean during her time in office.
“The resources that we are putting into addiction treatment, the resources that we are putting into ensuring more people have access to healthcare,” Gov. Whitmer said. “It is so incredibly important. This is a space where have got more good work to do.”
On the topic of abortion rights, each candidate said they would support Michigan voters’ decision on Proposal 3 once the results are in.
Gov. Whitmer added that she heavily supports Proposal 3.
“Proposal 3 is absolutely necessary to preserve the rights we have had for 49 years under Roe v. Wade,” Gov. Whitmer explained.
The governor went on, “When the Supreme Court decided to upend it and overrule Roe, Michigan was poised to revert back to a 1931 law that makes abortion a felony.
Dixon claimed that Gov. Whitmer and those in support of Proposal 3 have not been honest about what it entails.
“It’s unfortunate that we are not being honest about what Proposal 3 is,” Dixon said.
Dixon continued her claim, “We know that Proposal 3 does remove parental consent. It also makes it so that you do not have to be a doctor to perform an abortion.”
In another contested question, Gov. Whitmer and Dixon discussed how each would go about improving Michigan schools.
Dixon claimed that Michigan schools are in the bottom 10 in the U.S. in terms of reading and math rates. Dixon said that in order to fix this,
“We just got our test scores back for fourth and eighth graders and we are really doing horribly in reading and math for fourth and eighth graders,” Dixon said.
Dixon went on, “This is something that has been a pillar of my campaign, to bring education back in the state of Michigan. Not only do we want to make sure parents are involved in education, but we want to make sure that our kids are back on track from the pandemic.
Gov. Whitmer said her administration’s education budget is allowing schools across the state to make many of the changes necessary.
“Education is what levels the playing field for people and we have underinvested in it for decades,” Gov. Whitmer noted. “However, earlier this year we got the biggest investment in public education done in a bipartisan way to support teachers, to bring down class sizes, to wrap our kids with supports like mental health support, tutors and literacy coaches.”
If you have registered to vote absentee, you have likely already received your ballot in the mail. For those who have not, you can vote in person on Election Day which is Nov. 8.
For information on your polling location and what is on the ballot near you, visit Vote411 by clicking here.
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