VIDEO: Lt. Governor Gilchrist Talks with Ferndale Teens

VIDEO:  Lt. Governor Gilchrist Talks with Ferndale Teens

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 22, 2021)

Ferndale, MI-For Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, “politics means what are we doing to help one another be our best selves.”

With that spirit, the second highest ranking executive official in Michigan took time to chat with students at Ferndale’s University High School last week as part of their Pizza and Politics series supported by the Ferndale Area District Library.  Students met during lunch to learn more about the Lt. Governor and what his job is, as well as to talk about topics important to them.

During the hour-long conversation he answered questions, as well as asked the students what problems they see in their community.  The teens shared concerns over speeders on their street, high gas prices, and violence in the community.  Together they brainstormed potential solutions.  “Even though you aren’t 18, you can still make a difference in these things,” Gilchrist said.

In the discussion about violence, Gilchrist shared that “I have had to deal with discrimination from law enforcement since I was 9… We have to recognize that the relationship between police and the people they serve definitely has been strained.  The fact that many people in our community don’t trust the police is understandable. We gotta fix that.”  At 9, he said, a group of kids had been playing basketball in Farmington.  All the kids were white except for him, and he got singled out by an officer for a warning.

When asked what he likes about his job, Glichrist said “I enjoy being able to make an impact on some big important stuff like making sure everybody has internet access, make sure they can get their criminal records expunged, prevent people from dying from coronavirus – that’s the stuff I get to work on.” he also talked about being proud of increases to public school funding.

Students in the media center voluntarily spent their lunch hour learning from their special visitor, many with an interest in public service themselves.  For those unsure about running for office, Gilchrist said “There’s a lot of different ways to be involved in politics.  All of them don’t mean you have to be an elected official… Whether it’s a mayor or a governor or a lt. governor none of us can become that all by ourselves.  We need a lot of people to help us; we need people to work with us.”

One student wondered about the “economic rewards” of politics.  The Lt. Governor, whose salary is $111,510,  is happy with his compensation, but added “If I was still a software engineer at Microsoft, instead of Lt. Governor of Michigan, I would make a whole lot more money.”  He explained that politics isn’t about money but about service.

Gilchrist had grown up in both Detroit and Farmington, with parents who were active helpers in the community.  He went to school for engineering and moved to Seattle for five years to work for Microsoft before coming home and working in technology for the City of Detroit.  There he created the Improve Detroit smartphone app for people to report non-emergency problems like potholes, broken street lights, and fallen tree limbs.

In 2016 he ran unsuccessfully for Detroit City Clerk, and he decided to try for the sake of making a difference.  Though he was 1,482, his efforts caught the eye of Gretchen Whitmer who invited him to be her running mate.

And now he helps keep Michigan on track as the President of the State Senate and as acting Governor whenever Governor Whitmer leaves the state.  He also enjoys getting to know the whole state.  “I took my kids to the upper peninsula,” he said. “I didn’t get to do that as a child.”

At the end Gilchrist stuck around to take selfies with the students while they excitedly talked about future careers in politics and public service.

Learn more about Lt. Governor Gilchrist on Michigan.gov.

Learn more about Ferndale Schools at FerndaleSchools.org.

 

 

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