Lieutenant Governor Makes History in Battle for Criminal Justice Reform

Garlin Gilchrist becomes the first African American Lieutenant Governor to sign bill

Before becoming Gretchen Whitmer’s Lieutenant Governor, Garlin Gilchrist worked as a software engineer, then the social network coordinator for the 2008 Obama Campaign. He recently made history by becoming the first black Lieutenant Governor to sign a bill into law. 

Click the player above to hear Russ McNamara’s full interview with Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and read edited excerpts below.


On where Michigan stands in putting people of color and women in positions of power

I think we are making tremendous strides. Certainly in our administration, we have the most diverse cabinet and leadership team of any administration ever in Michigan.  You know the voters have spoken that they want the best people. Those voters know that talent comes in all forms, all shapes, all genders and all ethnicities – Michigan, I think, is going to continue down that path. 

On criminal justice reform being a bipartisan priority 

A lot of people have been victimized by a system that judges them harshly because they had a bad day or made a bad choice. So the legislation I signed will open up another pathway for entrepreneurs who have had felonies on their record. This is a bipartisan moment for criminal justice reform. Everyone realizes that the system is not working for victims or survivors of crimes. It’s not working for those who have been incarcerated. It’s not working for state or county jails that have to spend so much money on incarceration. 

On working out a budget re-do with Republicans to restore some of the programs cut by Governor Whitmer’s vetoes

Governor Whitmer continues to be at the table ready to negotiate. We actually had a deal with the House Republicans that the Senate Republicans decided they didn’t want to be a part of and they brought it to a standstill so they could go hunting. We’re ready to work this out. We’re ready to work on all our priorities that we articulated all the way back in March.  I’m optimistic that’s possible and I remain here ready to work. [ED: Rural health care funding and the budget to the Pure Michigan ad campaign were among Governor Whitmer’s $1 billion dollars in vetoes.]

In order to fix our infrastructure and fix our roads, we need new revenue. We have the worst roads in the country and they’re not getting any better when they’re not getting fixed. We know the people who are driving over those potholes are ready for them to be fixed too. We need to work with the legislature and they need to come to the table with real ideas to get that done. We’re ready to negotiate on that, just like we’re ready to negotiate on the budget. 

On whether the Governor is backing away from a gas tax hike

We still haven’t seen a Republican roads plan. Would love to see one so we can negotiate. 

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.