ASMSU, the universitys undergraduate student government, will sponsor the first open debate between state House hopefuls Bill Hollister and Gretchen Whitmer at the Kellogg Center tonight.
Democrat Whitmer and Republican Hollister are vying for the 70th District state House seat currently occupied by Laura Baird, D-Okemos. Because of term limits, Baird cant seek the seat again.
The 70th District includes MSU.
It is important to get the candidates out in front of students, said Mark Pritzlaff, director of legislative affairs for ASMSU. The students deserve an opportunity to hear what they have to say.
The hour-long debate begins at 7 p.m. with opening statements from each candidate.
A four-person panel, consisting of members from ASMSU and the MSU College Republicans and Democrats, will each ask the candidates seven questions. A member of the universitys debate team will serve as the event mediator.
Hollister, an East Lansing businessman, and Whitmer, an East Lansing-based attorney, will each have 90 seconds to provide a response and 60 seconds for a rebuttal. They are also granted two minutes each for their opening and closing statements.
Pritzlaff said issues likely to be discussed include student voting rights, student funding and getting more state tax dollars for MSU. At least one of the questions will be specifically designed for the individual candidate. The panel met earlier last week to formulate questions to ask Whitmer and Hollister.
We wanted to keep the questions centered around the students, Pritzlaff said.
Although this line of questioning will likely take up the duration of the debate, audience discussion will take place if time permits.
We have some pretty straightforward questions coming from the panel, Pritzlaff said. Our goal is to move things along and to open things up.