As the November election is set to happen in under two months, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing, announced her support for Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.’s decision to switch to near-completely remote learning this semester, in addition to some of her policy priorities if she returns to office.
Slotkin, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Michigan’s 8th District after defeating two-term incumbent Mike Bishop in 2018, said she trusts the guidance of MSU’s president given his prior medical experience with infectious diseases.
“I support the decision that President Stanley had to make,” Slotkin said. “I know he didn’t make it happily, but given his background as a doctor and a researcher on medical issues, I feel confident that he was leading with the best public health interest of the students … and staff in mind.”
While she deemed the move to online learning the “right decision” for public health, it caused her re-election campaign to reevaluate how to connect with student voters.
Although she won by 13,000 votes in 2018, Slotkin said between 6,000 and 7,000 of those votes were cast by students.
Now, without MSU’s full student body on campus, the congresswoman is encouraging students to register and vote in the district, no matter their political preference.
“It’s arguably the most important election of our lifetime, and whatever people think politically, they should be interested in voting,” Slotkin said. “It’s super easy to register on the Secretary of State’s website, and I hope we have at least some students voting in the 8th District this fall.”
Slotkin additionally named her policy priorities if she is reelected, with a number of them centric to coronavirus relief.
“First and foremost, we have to deal with the public health and economic crises that have come from the (coronavirus) … for everybody, especially college students,” Slotkin said. “Just thinking about the economy that folks have or will graduate into, thinking about student loans, thinking about making sure that students and their families are safe.”
Though interest on student loans was temporarily lowered to 0% and federal student loan borrowers may temporarily cease student loan payments until Dec. 31, 2020 in an effort to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, Slotkin said one big issue that students talk to her about is student debt.
“While there’s been some postponement of repayment because of (COVID-19), it doesn’t change the overall situation, which is that it’s just become much more expensive to afford a college education,” Slotkin said.
Slotkin said she believes in capping the interest that can be charged on a student loan at 2.5%.
“Getting a student loan is not like putting a new deck on your house,” Slotkin said. “It’s an investment in your future and in the county’s future.”
Among Slotkin’s other priorities are lowering the price of healthcare and prescription drugs and environmental security.
“I believe in treating environmental security as homeland security,” Slotkin said.
Additionally, Slotkin said she is interested in bringing some medical supply chain manufacturing back to the United States after it was largely outsourced to China throughout the pandemic, as is her opponent, Republican Paul Junge.
The race for the state’s 8th District has entailed its share of controversy, as Junge has made several claims against Slotkin that have been deemed “false” or “deceptive” by various news organizations, such as the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV.
Slotkin said she found Junge’s attacks “really disappointing” and hopes voters make their decisions based on their honest differences on Election Day.
“I think that the residents of the 8th District are smarter than he gives them credit for, and they just want to see the two candidates running and make their decisions based on honest differences in our perspectives and in our policies,” Slotkin said.
Voters will be able to see the differences in Slotkin and Junge’s perspectives in a series of three debates set to take place before the election.
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The first of two televised debates will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21 on WLNS-TV, Lansing, and the second will air at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27 on WDIV-TV, Detroit.
The third debate will occur via radio at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 on WHMI-FM, Howell.
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