By Charles H. Winfrey, Contributor
He’s tall, 6’8”, as a matter of fact, he’s articulate, he’s smart, he’s young (only 35), and he’s energetic. But once he opens his mouth it dispels all doubt as to why Gretchen Whitmer selected him as her running mate. He is also extremely passionate, idealistic (he doesn’t own a vehicle, rather he relies on ride sharing), but well versed on the major issues plaguing the city of Flint. He is Garlan Gilchrist II, technology geek, community activist, and emerging political leader for years to come, whether the ticket of Whitmer and Gilchrist wins the Governor’s seat or not.
Gilchrist visited Flint last Tuesday to meet with a few of Flint’s political and faith leaders. He began his day meeting with Mayor Karen Weaver and together they went on to greet students at Doyle-Ryder School on the first day of classes. They also visited with students at Southwestern Classical Academy. From there, Gilchrist met with a group of elected officials and faith leaders who probed his knowledge as well as his poise and patience under fire with questions like the one raised by Flint school board member Vera Perry: “What will the Whitmer administration do to help distressed school districts like Flint?”
Gilchrist responded that unlike the current administration, they would stop raiding funds earmarked for K-12 education to pay for their own pet projects. He also stated he is a strong believer in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education, rather than a strict STEM education because of the values the Arts bring into our lives. He stated further that he favors bringing education leaders and administrators to the table to make policy on education, rather than continue allowing bureaucrats to do so.
On a question of current immigration policies raised by local political activist Ralph Arrelano, he responded that a Whitmer administration would not feel compelled to allocate resources to the current immigration policies on the State level. He acknowledged the black eye this nation has received as a result of President Trump’s failed immigration policies.
Although Cilchrist lost in his bid for Detroit City Clerk in 2017 against Janice Winfrey, he managed to raise 10 times more money than the incumbent. He lost by only 1,500 votes out of over 100,000 ballots cast. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a computer science degree, he went to work for Microsoft in Seattle, Washington. From there he made his jaunt into politics in 2008 as Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s technology director, where he ran Obama’s social media campaigns. He has worked with the social justice organization, MoveOn.Org in Washington D.C., and he has served as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s director of Innovation and Emerging Technology. Duggan is in full support of Whitmer’s choice.
On a parting note, Gilchrist asked that the Faith Community can do much to increase voter turnout on November 6. They can ask their prison ministries to make sure all inmates receive absent voter applications, they can make sure their congregants receive absent voter applications, and they can take their parishioners to city hall to vote. As for individual voters, he state he had attended Aretha Franklin’s funeral, and one of the things that stood out was the statement made by Jessie Jackson, that “we can stand in long lines for hours to attend a funeral, but we refuse to stand in line to vote.”
Be sure to take you and yours to the polls to vote November 6.