MICHIGAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATECandidate name: Shri ThanedarCandidate website: https://www.shri2018.comApplication submitted on December 25, 2017 at 11:07pmQuestionnaire ResponsesCIVIL RIGHTS: What’s your position on systemic problems facing people of color, including police brutality and the prison industrial complex?I believe discrimination in any form for any reason is morally wrong. Our state’s police force is integral to keeping our cities and communities safe, but when they are involved in violent incidents, they need to be held accountable. Instances of brutality or abuse of power need to be investigated to the fullest extent. While proper punishment must always be enforced and violent criminals prevented from endangering the public, Michigan spends far too much time and money incarcerating non-violent criminals. We spend $2 billion of our $2.8 billion public safety budget on prison operations. Our per capita cost is $202, compared to Minnesota’s $91. Alternative programs for nonviolent offenders would open up much of this budget and allow it to be used elsewhere. By focusing on rehabilitation, we can prevent violent crimes as well as reduce overcrowding in our prisons. Furthermore, to prevent violent incidents in the future, steps need to be taken to ensure that our police force is trained to de-escalate a situation as safely as possible. I will look to provide local communities with the resources necessary to engage in effective community policing efforts.CIVIL RIGHTS: What’s your position on LGBTQ+ rights, and what actions do you plan to take to protect those rights?I am a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. Specifically, I favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identification. I would also extend these amendments to include LGBTQ protections in Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act, as well as inclusion in the equal protection and non-discrimination provisions of Article I, Section 2 of the Michigan Constitution. No person should be discriminated against for any reason, and I support legislation that ensures the safety of all citizens. I will also support inclusive sex education in schools, additional protections for transgender women and the elimination of gender identification on driver’s license, or the ability to self-identify.DRUG WAR: Do you support the war on drugs?I believe the ‘war on drugs’ has devolved into a failed policy that has increased unemployment, unfairly targeted minorities and led to extremely high imprisonment rates of non-violent offenders. Incarcerated, non-violent offenders often have trouble finding work once they are released from prison, preventing them from contributing to the economy, and adding to the likelihood of recidivism. Instead of promoting policies where non-violent offenders and particularly the young are incarcerated, I believe we must invest in helping them receive treatment and providing them will skills-training and education they need to succeed.DRUG WAR: Do you support legalizing recreational marijuana and remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 drug classification?I believe we can cut back on overcrowding in prisons and life-altering felony charges by decriminalizing marijuana and removing it from the Schedule 1 drug classification. We are using valuable time and resources to arrest people across the state for simply possessing marijuana. For many arrestees, their lives are ruined and they face decades in prison. In Colorado, legal marijuana has added $2.4 billion to the state’s economy and added 18,005 full-time jobs. As a state struggling with job growth and an imbalance between what we spend as a state per prisoner versus what we spend per pupil, we should get behind this effort in Michigan.ECONOMIC JUSTICE: What are your thoughts on economic justice in Michigan, and what, if anything, do you plan to do regarding the matter?I believe that every Michigander should have an equal opportunity to pursue the American dream, as I have, and that government can either help or hinder in that pursuit. I am the only candidate in this race who knows what it’s like to go hungry. I am the only candidate in this race who knows what it’s like to struggle with college costs. And I am the only candidate in this race who has created a single job. Education was the opportunity ladder for me to climb and fight to bring my family out of poverty. I know what it’s like for the 20% of Michiganders living in poverty because I’ve been there. It’s time Michigan’s working families had a Governor willing to fight for economic justice. I intend to use my insight and personal experience to advance a series of progressive policies that increase opportunities for all Michiganders to pursue their American dream.ECONOMIC JUSTICE: What actions do you plan to take to protect those most vulnerable among us, including those living in poverty or barely getting by in the working class?As the only candidate in this race who knows what it is like to live in poverty, I will govern with compassion and perspective and always protect our most vulnerable. We need a Governor who will promote a progressive policies and one that is committed to reforming our state’s education system. Education was the ladder I climbed to bring my family out of poverty, and that ladder is broken today for too many Michiganders. It is imperative we reform our state’s education system and invest substantial new revenue into career and technical education and job training programs. I understand that businesses invest in communities where people have the education and skills they need to be successful, and I intend to invest in providing communities with the resources they need to make sure the ladder out of poverty is available for all Michiganders.ECONOMIC JUSTICE: Do you support raising the minimum wage? If yes, how would you accomplish this raise and how high would you raise the minimum wage? If no, why not, or do you have an alternative suggestion to increase low-income wages?I support increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour and indexing future increase to inflation. No one who works full-time should live below the poverty line. I would work with the legislature, leaders from the business community and from organized labor to ensure that all stakeholders’ concerns were considered as the policy was written, and then I would go out and build public support by campaigning throughout the state and taking the fight directly to the people. Working families need a Governor who is willing to fight, and that is exactly what I will do across the state to ensure that workers are given the dignity and respect they rightfully deserve. ELECTIONS: In 2015, Michigan ranked last in a national study of state ethics and transparency. What initiatives or concepts do you support in the areas of campaign finance reform and influence of money in our political system?There are a number of ways I believe we should reform our campaign finance and electoral processes to eliminate the influence of money from our political system. We must get dark money out of our politics. I support full financial disclosure requirements for candidates running for any state office in an effort to shine a bright light on conflicts of interest. We must do more to make information easily accessible by the public. I believe we should look at increasing penalties for violations, increasing reporting requirements and requiring the Attorney General to investigate and decide whether to prosecute violations within 30 days of a complaint.ELECTIONS: Do you intend to accept campaign donations from Super PACs, large corporations and other forms of “big money”? If yes, how can you demonstrate to us that you will not be under the influence of Super PACs, large corporations and other forms of “big money” or “dark money” before and after you are elected?In October, I signed a campaign pledge declaring that I will not accept or use contributions from candidate, business and/or corporate-backed political action committees (PACs). We must eliminate dark money and corporate influence from our elections. We need elected officials who are not beholden to corporations or their wealthy donors. I have challenged my fellow candidates to co-sign my pledge, and to date, none have.ELECTIONS: Is voter suppression a concern of yours? What do you plan to do to ensure a free and fair elections process for all?Absolutely. As more and more states pass laws making it more difficult for people to vote, we must double down on our efforts to reform Michigan’s voting laws to make it easier for people to register to vote. We must govern with compassion and inclusivity and look for ways to increase participation. As Governor, I would look to implement programs like automatic voter registration for 18 year olds and allowing no-reason absentee voting. HEALTHCARE: Do you think healthcare should be a right to all people and if so, what steps will you take to protect that right?I believe access to quality, affordable healthcare is a fundamental right, not privilege. With the attacks on healthcare coming from Washington D.C., it’s critical that we have a governor who will fight for universal healthcare coverage here in Michigan. We must be on the frontlines of opposing a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Michigan has expanded its Medicaid program to increase healthcare coverage of its citizens. Republican efforts to repeal the ACA or change the Medicaid program would leave hundreds of thousands of residents without coverage, and that is morally wrong. I will strongly oppose any effort to curtail that program, to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, to establish lifetime limits of coverage for serious illnesses, or to increase premiums for older people or people who are sick. I will not only oppose efforts to repeal the ACA but will fight to implement a single-payer healthcare structure. I promise that whatever Washington does, we will work to ensure that all Michiganders have affordable healthcare.EDUCATION: What are your views on education? Where do you stand on tuition for higher education? Do you support public education, and if so, what will you do to protect our public school system?As your next governor, I will work to make our educational system world class. As an entrepreneur, I know that businesses invest in communities where people have the education and skills they need to be successful. As a husband and parent, I believe that communities thrive when the local public schools are strong. And as a Michigander, I won’t rest until every child has equal access to a quality public education as guaranteed by our state’s constitution.Our educational system has shown a steady decline in recent years because Lansing politicians have cut funding. Meanwhile, charter schools have seen a dramatic expansion, siphoning funds from public schools without improving education quality. I understand how important it will be to make public education funding a priority again.On K-12 education, I believe we must boost our investment in K-12 education, especially for districts with higher percentages of at-risk students, allocating resources by the way students learn, not just by where they live. Next, I believe we should cut state administered M-STEP testing, switching to a three times per 4-year NWEA administered assessment system that measures growth, not achievement.We also need to compensate educators as the professionals they are and treat them with the respect they deserve. We can do this by streamlining professional development and licensing requirements, ensuring teachers do not pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets, creating a statewide marketing effort – similar to Pure Michigan – to attract, recruit, and retain educators statewide, with a specific emphasis on urban and rural areas and incentivizing entrance into the profession with ideas including college loan forgiveness and credits for volunteerism. Lastly we can establish a real-time study on teacher wages to ensure educators are paid accordingly and in line with similar states.Implementing universal Pre-K programming statewide through the state’s ISDs is another priority I will fight for. Protecting and preserving the state’s teacher pension system to ensure it is stable for retired and retiring educators while addressing legacy costs is another top priority.As governor, I will outlaw for-profit charter schools across our state. While choice will still be an option, charter schools will play by the same rules as traditional public schools.I also be believe we need to invest $500 million of new revenue into career, technical education and job training programs. If we do this right, community colleges and intermediate schools districts would serve as conduits for these resources.On higher education, I will fight for accelerated debt forgiveness for students if after graduation, they stay and work in Michigan, at a level equal to their state tax bill. I would double down with additional accelerated debt forgiveness if graduates stay in Michigan, start a business and create jobs.Finally, I intend as Governor to make 4-year college free for families below the $120,000 annual income threshold by working with colleges and universities on fiscal challenges.There is a lot we can and must do to improve our state’s education system.ENVIRONMENT: What legislation would you propose or support to ensure we are doing more to protect our environment?The Great Lakes are home to 21 percent of the world’s fresh water, which will become the most valuable resource as our climate changes. I believe we as Michiganders have a moral duty to each other, to future generations and to the world to be excellent stewards of this life-sustaining resource.I love the beauty of this state and recognize the role it plays in both our economy and our quality of life. I will work to protect not only our famous lakes, but also our rivers, forests, and our cities. We must put a stop to policies that pollute our air, destroy our parks, threaten our lakes and cause blight and decay in our urban areas.As Governor, I will shut down Enbridge Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac and eliminate this grave threat to our state’s economy, our environment, our Great Lakes and our way of life. I will gather all stakeholders and push a solution that addresses concerns about jobs and energy costs, while shutting the pipeline down. I propose that we prohibit the sale or export of bottled Michigan water outside of state boundaries. I would look to increase the number of state forests and preserves, tighten pollution controls, stop the threat from Asian carp entering our waterways, invest in agricultural diversification to focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and I would enter Michigan into the US Climate Alliance, among other things.ENVIRONMENT: What steps will you take to transform our energy systems away from fossil fuels as we transition into renewable energy systems?We have a President who thinks climate change is a hoax and we have a Governor responsible for the Flint water crisis. It’s clear that we need a governor who understands science and will govern with an agenda that lead Michigan’s transition into renewable energy and away from dependence on fossil fuels. I believe we can immediately improve the technical assistance, rebates, and other financial incentives that our state provides to families and businesses that implement sustainable energy practices. Once we ease the challenges of transitioning into solar, wind and geothermal clean energy systems, we will be able to create entirely new industries around these sources of energy and in turn we will be able to create thousands of good-paying jobs in our state. As a scientist, I understand the importance of making this transition and am uniquely qualified to place our state on a path to being powered completely by renewable energy sources over the coming decades.IMMIGRATION: What’s your stance on sanctuary cities and other protections for immigrants?I am a proud immigrant. I came to the United States in 1979 with $16 dollars and a dream. Nowhere else in the world did I have access to the opportunities I needed to achieve success. I am forever grateful to this country, and the state of Michigan, for giving me a chance. I believe everybody deserves a shot at the American Dream, and as your governor, I will work to make sure immigrants have that same opportunity.Immigrants and DREAMers alike make tremendous contributions to Michigan’s economy by nurturing the agriculture, starting businesses and hiring locally, and working STEM jobs. Over the last decade, immigrants created one-third of the high-tech businesses in our state, at a rate six times the rest of the population.I will fight for a fair and compassionate immigration policy in Michigan; one that does not throw millions of men, women and children – many of whom have lived here for years – out of the country. To ensure Michigan is fair and compassionate toward legal immigrants, I will fight to ensure our borders remain secure while respecting local communities, support legislation that vehemently protects DREAMers, call on Washington to provide an additional 50,000 employment-based visas for immigrants skills in STEM, and I will push for Michigan to become a sanctuary state.RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Do you support mosque surveillance?We must stand together as Michiganders, condemn hatred, end religious bigotry and stop discrimination. Enough is enough. As Governor, I will build an inclusive Michigan that works for us all, regardless of the color of our skin or our religious beliefs. We must come together as a people, condemn hateful rhetoric and hateful public policies, and we must stand up to anyone who supports promoting this hatred through policies and tactics like mosque surveillance.RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Should businesses be allowed to discriminate based on their beliefs or the beliefs of their customers?Again, I believe discrimination in any form for any reason is morally wrong and businesses should not be allowed to discriminate in any shape or form. Period.TAXES: What is your stance on our current tax system? What would you do differently?I believe our current tax system is reflective of misplaced priorities and is in need of comprehensive reform. To begin, I would create tax fairness by moving to a graduated income tax system like many other states. I would also immediately look to end corporate welfare and eliminate the corporate income tax loopholes that for too long have been hindering the middle class in favor of the very wealthy. The wealthy keep much more of their earnings while middle class workers are paying more than their fair share in taxes and fees. Incomes for average Michigan residents have remained static for decades and Michigan ranks 35th among all states in per capita income. That must change, and I believe it can be done through strong, progressive leadership and prioritizing the needs of working families.WOMEN’S RIGHTS: What is your position on a woman’s right to choose? Will you legislate based on your position? Explain.I strongly support a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and will work to roll back recent laws that have restricted reproductive freedom. I support a woman’s right to choose and I believe that every woman should have the right to make her own health decisions. Women’s issues are everyone’s issues. As Governor, I will legislate from this position and look for ways to increase funding for planned parenthood, repeal the “rape insurance” law, establish equal pay for equal work, create affordable child care programs as well as paid family leave for mothers and fathers, among other things.WORKERS RIGHTS: Do you support workers co-ops and/or unions? Will you legislate based on your support or opposition of either? Explain.I believe in workers’ rights and strongly support unions, the workers they represent and the entire organized labor community that has been under constant attack for too long. We have seen what a lack of compassion and perspective in governing do to the vitality of our workforce. The next attack on workers and unions has already started in the form of prevailing wage repeal. This repeal would reduce earnings at a time when working families already have enough difficulty making ends meet. It would make workplaces less safe and work against the investments we so desperately need to make in order to provide workers with the training and skills they need to remain competitive. As governor, I will stand with workers and union members and fight against any attacks on working families.WAR: What is your stance on America’s declaration of and involvement in war, foreign or domestic?We live in an increasingly complex and dangerous world where new threats emerge in new forms almost daily. Unfortunately, there is no magic solution for navigating the complicated world in which we live. We must defend freedom domestically and abroad at all costs. We must also seek diplomatic solutions before considering that we must resort to military action. Military force must always remain an option, however, I believe that the use of force and our involvement in war must always remain a last resort.