GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Though Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R) isn't new to politics, he says he is seeing new things on the campaign trail this time around during his bid for governor.
“There has been a remarkable consistency on issues around the state," Calley tells FOX 17. "And I think that’s a little bit unusual in an election cycle because we have a very diverse state and what I’ve found though is that jobs and infrastructure and education, those are still things that are traditionally on people’s minds."
Those issues are also at the center of Calley's platform. He and Governor Snyder have implemented the Marshall Plan for Talent, which is meant to partner educators and employers to keep workforce talent in the state of Michigan.
“I have made investments in our people and getting them ready for employment in a very competitive global economy," Calleys says. "That made those my top priorities in the best pre-K-12 system, the Marshall Plan for Talent, bringing back skilled trades in a big way and social service reform that helps them solve the problems that lead them to needing so much help in the first place.”
The plan also includes incentives for teachers.
“Teachers are heroes," Calley says. "We need to treat teachers, we need to think of them the same way we do with those who are in charge of our public safety, you know police officers and firefighters and teachers.”
Infrastructure is at the heart of the majority of candidate platforms this election cycle, often attacking the Snyder administration's handling of Michigan's crumbling roads. This leaves Calley to play defense.
“It was a record year for road construction. Next year we’ll break that record again but we have 40 years' worth of neglect to catch up on," Calley says.
Mental health has always been an important issue for Calley. One of his daughters has autism and Calley has advocated for eliminating the stigma of mental health disorders.
“Our system is very segregated from the rest of our healthcare system and there’s a lot of stigma involved in it too that keeps people away from getting help but there’s also, the systems just aren’t good enough. They’re not robust enough," Calley says.
However, the issue gets complicated when it comes to gun violence. According to Federal Centers for Disease Control, there were over 1,200 people in Michigan who died by gun violence in 2016. Over half of them were suicides.
Calley recently received an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. While he's a major proponent for guns, he says he hopes to address numbers like those found in the FCDC study.
“I really think we have to get to the bottom of what’s happening with individuals and help people get better," Calley says. "Gun violence and as you had mentioned suicide in particular and particularly with men, where guns can be used for suicide. Helping a person with the underlying mental illness that got them to the point, that’s the real long-term solution here and why I’ve been so passionate about healthcare from the neck up.”
Calley says one way to stop gun violence incidents before they happen is through the OK 2 Say program, which allows tips to remain anonymous.
The Michigan primary election is August 7.