1-on-1 with Gov. Whitmer: How she plans to tackle mental health, gun violence and more

Posted at 10:36 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 23:23:32-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — At the Governor’s Service Awards inside Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit, 7 Action News met with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the first time since she declared victory in last week's election.

It's now the first time in nearly 40 years that Democrats have simultaneous controlof the state House, state Senate and governor's Office. During 14 of the last 30 years, Republicans held the same trifecta.

“Having control of the House, the Senate and the governor's office: what are some of the key agenda items you think that might move forward and what are some of the main focuses moving forward?" 7 Action News reporter Brett Kast asked the governor.

“Well, I'm really excited. It’s the fourth time it’s happened in 130 years, so I think it’s really an affirmation that we’ve been focused on the fundamentals, and that’s what people expect,” Whitmer said.

Of her main focuses, we wanted to know specifically what can be done to address the mental health crisis in our area. Right now, Detroit police say they’re responding to 64 mental health calls every day.

“Are there any things you’re looking at? Is it state hospital beds for adults? What are some things the state is looking at to invest in?" Kast asked.

“It’s all the above," Whitmer responded. "We've made historic investment in mental health support for our students and our schools. We're building the first psychiatric hospital in decades, we got that done in this last budget. We need to put more resources into policing so that our officers are well trained and can address crime and have mental health experts address some of the mental health crisis we’re seeing.”

Detroit police are also dealing with a rash of barricaded gunman. The most recent was just hours before the governor's interview. In that case, Chief James White himself talked down a murder suspect, who police say had an arsenal of military-grade weapons. The gunman allegedly killed his neighbor over an Amazon package, one of many stories of senseless violence.

“We’ve talked about this stuff at nauseam," White said on scene. "I don't have a magic wand. If I did, it’d be out of magic because I would be spreading it all over the place to make these situations stop.”

Neighbor Khaliah Sanders said, “I think we’re becoming more accustomed to gunshots, you know? You hear them and don’t think anything.”

The governor has long been in favor of more gun legislation, something Democrats now have a clearer path to accomplish with majorities in the state Legislature.

“We owe it to the people of this state to have policies that are proven like secure storage and background checks and red flag laws," Whitmer said. "These are some of the things I support and am encouraged the next Legislature will get to my desk.”

Kast asked. “You mentioned how encouraged you are. How likely do you think it is we could see some of those reforms pass this Legislature?"

"I think it’s highly likely,” Whitmer responded.

As for her political future, numerous outlets have suggested a possible run for the White House, which Whitmer said has not been her focus.

"I just won reelection to the job I've worked so hard at and so hard for a second term," Whitmer said. "I couldn't be more excited to be the governor of Michigan and there's nothing else that's going to distract me."

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.