Get to know Shri Thanedar
An event to get to know democratic gubernatorial candidate of Michigan Shri Thanedar was hosted by MSU College Democrats on Jan. 29. It concluded with a Q&A session, during which members of the public asked Thanedar about his plans for the state if he would be elected.
Thanedar talked about his background and his life growing up in India. He attended the University of Michigan where he said he came to pursue his American dream.
“This is the state that gave me my comeback, and so I feel obligated to this state, to fix it and take it to the next level,” Thanedar said.
The event was Facebook livestreamed. Below are a few of the major issues talked about at the event.
“I want to be the education governor," Thanedar said.
His plan includes a robust universal pre-k program, the outlaw of all for-profit charter schools and incentives for people to go into education, including college debt forgiveness for those who go into teaching.
"I would cut down the excessive testing that goes on, because a lot of our teachers are just focused on the testing and no real teaching and studying and learning happens,” Thanedar said. “The teachers and the schools are graded on how their kids do in the tests, and those tests should not be used for that purpose.”
Thanedar said he would legalize marijuana, and this would generate approximately $125 million in revenue. He said he would include citizens currently serving sentences under the current marijuana laws into his plan.
“I will expunge their records. Secondly, if they’re non-violent offenders, I will release them, I will pardon them to the extent the law allows me to do that. Thirdly, we need to stop this revolving door thing. We need to create opportunities for people to be productive members of our society,” Thanedar said.
He said the goal isn’t to fill up prisons.
“I will give people a second chance. I will clean their record,” Thanedar said. “I’ll give them free technical vocational education so they can become productive members of society.”
With a background in science, Thanedar said there has to be a gradual transition toward greener solutions for Michigan.
“We have no other alternative but to move to clean energy. That eventually will become a cost-effective solution and a cleaner solution for our climate and our health,” Thanedar said.
Additionally, he said he would create a registry of everyone exposed to lead from the water in Flint. He said he would provide free healthcare programs to watch for the impacts of lead poisoning through the years.
“The state did wrong to them, and it’s time that we take care of them,” Thanedar said.
By implementing a single-payer healthcare system for all, Thanedar said he can empower people.
“Two things: education and healthcare. These are not privileges, these are our fundamental rights,” Thanedar said. “We can cut the middleman, the insurance companies. We can challenge the pharmaceutical companies.”
Until such a healthcare system is implemented on a national level, Thanedar said he will put pressure on congress to do so. He said such a system is possible to implement at the state level.
“We can start by including people into the Medicare,” Thanedar said. “We can start with children and get all of the children covered under Medicare and go from there.”
Thanedar was asked about where he stands on the topic of DACA, the program created under former president Barack Obama’s administration that allows ”Dreamers," or people brought in to the U.S. illegally as children to work and get an education in America. He said the lack of security afforded to those in DACA is an issue and that he fully supports DACA.
"I think it’s a win-win situation, just like any other immigrants, and we need to have a more compassionate, more humane behavior,” Thanedar said. “Then give them incentives to stay here and give back to their adopted country. It’s only going to do us good.”
Referencing President Donald Trump’s rhetoric toward immigration, Thanedar said that is not the America he knows.
“It’s a non-issue,” Thanedar said. “I think we should really support them and I think we should do the right thing for them. It’s who we are. We are a great country, we are a compassionate country."