The August 7 primary election is just over a week away, and it’s an important election for our state as voters narrow down the candidates running to become Michigan’s next governor.
Throughout this week and next, 6 News is profiling several of those candidates for you to get to know them a little bit better.
6 News reporter Aaron Jordan sat down with Bill Gelineau, one of the two Libertarian gubernatorial candidates in the race.
For the first time in Michigan, Libertarians have qualified for the primary ballot. And Gelineau says he’s running to make the party the third voice in the state.
“There’s so many problems with the way our government runs. The conflict between the Republican and Democratic parties,” he said. “The Libertarian brings a different perspective: focused on ideas and less on personalities. And because we’re outside that two party conflict, I think we have the opportunity to be a fair arbiter.”
Gelineau sees himself in the mold of Gary Johnson, who ran for president as a Libertarian in 2016. Johnson received three percent of the vote, both in Michigan and nationwide.
Gelineau has served as chair of the Michigan Libertarian Party twice. He says what makes him stand out from his opponent, John Tatar, is his more than 20 years involvement in the party.
“My opponent has not been involved nearly as much,” Gelineau said. “So I have a lot of people around the state: I’ve won the endorsement of the last three people who have run for governor for the Libertarian party, and most of the people who have been chairman in the last 20 years.”
As for the issues, like many candidates running for governor, Gelineau wants to legalize marijuana. But he said he wants to take it a step further.
“There’s a lot of people who have a marijuana conviction on their record. I have said if elected, I will commute the sentence of every drug offense that did not, at the same time, have a violent offense committed with it,” he said.
Gelineau also proposes massive prison reform.
“There are an awful lot of people in prison who don’t need to be for the time periods that they are,” he said. “Comparing the number of people we have per capita in prison to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, those states have managed to handle their criminal populations differently with alternative sentences. We’ve created a prison industry.
And Gelineau said the money saved by reforming prisons could be put toward other things, such as roads.
“That would free up as much as $750 million that could be reassessed to other needs. Mainly roads, but also schools and other opportunities,” he said.
Gelineau says he would also lower Michigan’s spending cap from about 9.49 percent to just over 8.5 percent, which he says would prevent wasteful spending by the government.
Asked about people on the fence about voting Libertarian, Gelineau replied:
“If you keep voting the way you are, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve gotten. And that is this back and forth between Democrats and Republicans, which has been a pretty useless conversation. A Libertarian being elected as Governor of Michigan would shock the world,” he said.