'The Nerd' visits Grand Rapids' Downtown Market
GVL / Robert Mathews
Gov. Rick Snyder speaking during a campaign stop at the downtown market in Grand Rapids on Monday, February 3, 2014. Snyder announced his intent to run for re-election last week.
Applause filled the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids on Monday as Gov. Rick Snyder announced his intent to run for re-election. Among those cheering in the crowd was the student organization College Republicans.
The organization members were easily identified by their neon green “I’m with the Nerd” shirts and included about 40 students and recent graduates from Aquinas College, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University. The group volunteered at the event, greeting and directing guests and collecting signatures for Snyder’s nomination petition.
Evan Wallace, a member of the group and a freshman at GVSU, said he is hopeful that Snyder will be re-elected in November.
“One of the bigger issues for college students right now is job prospects after graduating,” Wallace said. “Snyder has been creating thousands of jobs in Michigan and is creating opportunities for students to stay here rather than moving to another state to find work. I think that’s a big incentive for students to vote for him.”
Another member, Catharine Cypher, is a senior at GVSU majoring in legal studies with a political science minor. Planning to graduate in May, Cypher is familiar with the worry and stress caused by thoughts of finding a job.
“I’m sitting here wondering if I’ll need to move to another state,” she said. “I think if Snyder stays in office, the job outlook will be more positive and graduates will have more potential in Michigan.”
During his speech, Snyder touched on the student’s concerns.
“There are jobs out there,” he said. “Jobs that are going unfilled. Now we have to make that connection with our young people looking for that new career and line them up with the skills, because we know they’re going to work hard. That’s the kind of thing in my second term I’d love to work on. I’m working on it already. Let’s hit the gas pedal on things like that.”
Outside of the market, however, a different message was being spread. Almost 50 protestors gathered on the sidewalk chanting, “Ricky, Ricky you can’t hide. We can see your greedy side.”
Sean Egan, the president of the Kent-Ionia Labor Council, was among the picketers.
“We want to make sure Snyder and his fellow Republicans know not everyone is happy in Kent County,” Egan said. “West Michigan hasn’t seen any gains from the government or our governor.”
Egan was joined by other union members holding signs stating, “middle class, not CEOS.”
Wallace said Snyder’s experience as a CEO is part of what makes him a good governor and candidate, though.
“We need someone with a business background to help grow our businesses in Michigan,” Wallace said. “Snyder’s background as a CEO shows he can effectively run a business. A career politician doesn’t have that kind of experience or knowledge.”
Cypher agreed, saying, “He’s not making just corporate, CEO jobs. He’s focusing on the private sector and small businesses too.”
Snyder also made campaign stops on Monday at James Group International in Detroit and Two Men and a Truck in Lansing. On Tuesday, he made appearances in Traverse City, Frankenmuth and Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills.