Sheriff Bouchard pays a visit

By Rory McCarty

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard spoke in front of a room full of Oakland University students on Monday as part of his campaign for governor.

In the Oakland Center’s Fireside Lounge, Bouchard gave a brief speech about what he hopes to achieve in his gubernatorial campaign, and then answered students’ questions for the rest of the time.

“You’ve got to support the hometown team. It’s the law,” Bouchard joked. “If it’s not, I’ll make it the law.”

Bouchard began by talking about his past as a Michigan senator, police officer, and as Oakland County’s sheriff.

He made the case that among the candidates for governor, he’s the only one who has the proper experience running a large government organization.

Throughout his speech, Bouchard stressed the need to do more with the money that the government already has, especially with the current state of the economy.

“We can’t ask people for more money in this environment,” he said. “It’s incumbent on us in the government to stretch your dollar.”

Bouchard cited as an example a plan to bid out state rest stops to private companies.

“There are hundreds of millions of dollars to find if you do things differently,” he said.

Bouchard focused on the need to fund safety and education as a way to bring jobs back to Michigan.

One student asked if Bouchard could do anything to address OU’s recent tuition hike, and another student asked if it was possible to get the Promise Scholarship back. Bouchard replied that “a promise is a promise.”

“If we don’t put money in education, we short change our students,” he said.

He also said that although the Promise Scholarship will probably not come up again this year, when it does come back to the table, he will vote for it.

However, on the issue of giving equal funding to Michigan schools to help struggling schools in Detroit, Bouchard rejected the idea that more funding results in better school performance.

“That’s a fallacy,” Bouchard said. “In the city of Detroit there’s a tremendous amount of money, but there’s a lot of abuse.”

Bouchard cited the example of Detroit area schools giving out paychecks to faculty that didn’t actually work there.

He said that it would take a long time and that many tough cuts and decisions would be made before Michigan can improve its economy, and the governor has to be able to do their job without worrying about the need to get reelected to do the job properly.

“You’ve got to till the soil, plant the seeds, and care for the land a long time, and the farmer that does all the work may not get to enjoy the shade of the tree he’s planted,” he said.

A war veteran attending OU said that he had gotten financial assistance to enroll in classes, but the state government had recently revoked his benefits.

“A promise is a promise,” Bouchard said again, “Especially for those young men and women who put their lives on the line.”

Bouchard said that he knew of police officers who went to fight in the war and came back without limbs.

When one student asked what Bouchard would do on his first day in office if elected, he said the first order of business would be to “stop and freeze all nonessential government spending.”

At the same time, Bouchard proposed a statewide tax cut to help the state remain competitive, saying that the current government has gone out of control with its spending.

“They’re spending like drunken sailors and even giving drunken sailors a bad reputation,” he said.

Bouchard said he’s in favor of tax incentives like the one currently provided to movie producers in Michigan, but businesses need those tax incentives because they can’t currently make money, and they could better be served by a “broad-based tax cut.”

Another way to rein in spending was Bouchard’s plan for a switch to a part-time legislature in order to “fix Lansing.”

He said that the senate and house are cycling through people too quickly, and proposed an elimination of health care and retirement benefits to save money.

Bouchard touched on the issue of environment preservation, saying that it’s especially important to the home of the Great Lakes.

“Four years ago, I said we need to do something about the carp,” Bouchard said. “Now everyone’s talking carp.”

Bouchard ending his talk to OU students by discussing his achievements as sheriff preparing him for the role of governor.

He said that though law enforcement has changed a lot since he started as a police officer, bringing in the need to deal with terrorism, he’s adapted the Oakland County Sheriff’s office to address the problem.

Bouchard concluded by saying his goal is to be better prepared, but with less money.

“He didn’t use a lot of ‘ums,'” political science major Alan Aiello said. “It affirms to me that he knows what he’s talking about.”

While some of the crowd were there to support Bouchard, not everyone agreed with his policy stances.

During the meet and greet session following the open forum, an attendee gestured rudely to Bouchard and raised his middle finger.

According to student body vice president Saman Waquad, the man cited Bouchard’s policies on gay rights as the reason for his action.

“We had a good turnout,” Waquad said. “A lot of good questions came up.”

Other gubernatorial candidates have been approachedĀ  by the Oakland University Student Congress to participate in similar events in the coming months before the election.