GVSU student runs for governor of Michigan
Candidate's platform includes legalizing recreational marijuana, protecting education system
GVL / Courtesy - Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press
Evan Space, a student at Grand Valley State University, is currently one of the registered Republican gubernatorial candidates for governor of Michigan in 2018.
Space, who served in the Michigan Army National Guard for eight years and was deployed to Afghanistan for a tour, has been a Michigan resident for 37 years. He credits his military experience as being a “very large factor” that got him into politics. In the future, he plans to push for a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program through GVSU.
“I’m not what you would call a politician, but I’m pretty much what you would call a self-employed, blue-collar U.S. military veteran that ended up with an education and is now seeking to pursue bigger goals in life,” Space said.
Some of the main elements of his political platform include protecting the education system, making environmental improvements, legalizing recreational marijuana, rebuilding Detroit, re-establishing permanent jobs, improving correctional facilities and more.
Space is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at GVSU with an emphasis in film and video production. He noted that his time on GVSU’s student senate piqued his political interest, saying it “gave (him) a better understanding of what the campus was more about and what the students were like.”
“I have taken my education with Grand Valley with a grain of salt, and I understood that this was a good time for me to actually try and make a positive development and a good impact for Michigan and all Michiganders,” Space said.
He said most of his political background comes from “education and experience through the military.” Aside from his military experience, he believes his moderate standing sets him apart from other candidates, specifically his perspective on the legalization of marijuana.
“I'm the only standing candidate in the Republican ticket right now that's actually looking to make marijuana legal and make the marijuana industry self-producing,” Space said. He said he believes the legalization of marijuana would be “one of our largest impacting contributions to making our state stronger.”
Regarding how this change would be handled, he said, “(It would be fine), as long as we treat the outlook of it (marijuana) like controlling it as alcohol and we enforce the laws behind that.”
One thing Space would like to see make a comeback is Michigan's film industry. In 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that ended Michigan's film incentive program, which had attracted Hollywood directors and stars to come to the state to make movies.
"I really saw great improvement with our economy being rebuilt by having Hollywood come in," Space said.
He believes bringing back Michigan’s film incentives will consequently boost the economy by encouraging big corporations like Hollywood to come in and help contribute to the rebuilding of the state.
Another one of his top priorities as governor would be to address the Flint water crisis and focus on taking immediate action to help the citizens of the city.
“I've heard in passing rumor that it (could take) anywhere up to 15 years for them to fully recover and fix it, but I think this is a now and must-be-dealt-with situation,” Space said. “We need to find a way to take and fix the water sources coming into Flint; we need to fix the binding issues with the residents. They've been paying too much money for taxes on their water bills and are coming into a financial situation because they were getting such bad water in the first place.”
He also suggested giving tax credit or relief to “others across the United States who want to come in and give their time and efforts to being able to fix the water piping issue in the city.”
Another focus of Space's campaign is protecting Michigan’s environment. Discussing this area, he referenced the cuts to the national budget for Michigan's environmental protection, which threatens the Great Lakes. He also addressed the pervasiveness of Asian carp, one of the largest invasive species in the U.S.
“We need to address that Asian carp are coming in, and if we don't do something about it, they will devastate our ecosystem throughout the Great Lakes,” Space said.
Space also emphasized his support of the LGBTQ community, specifically in a college setting. He said he stands behind them and “believes they should have full rights just like any other student,” adding that “we need to accept them no matter what their orientation may be.”
As a self-described “Laker through-and-through,” Space said, “I think that I would be an outstanding candidate. I don't come from high amounts of money; I'm just a worker like everybody else. (I've) been able to make a better person out of myself by living life here in Michigan and being able to understand what people need and how to help improve our problems and issues that we have standing in front of us."