Grilling the governor: Snyder faces tough questions during online town hall

Jan 20, 2012

Wednesday evening, Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder hosted an online town hall meeting, soliciting questions via email and social networking sites while responding through a streaming video feed on his Facebook profile.

Just prior to the event, there were over 3,500 questions submitted, including:

  • Will you please make high-speed commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit a priority?
  • You say Michigan has a surplus so why are so many people still losing their jobs? And why is Detroit in debt?
  • Why did college students lose food assistance, including the disabled taking online classes? Inhuman to me.
  • How do you feel about the potential legalization of marijuana? This could create potential jobs.

While Snyder only took on about two dozen question during the hour-long meeting , the Detroit Free Press reports that over half of the queries were "critical or accusatory." Even so, the Freep reports, Snyder kept things upbeat:

“We became too negative” in the last decade, he said, “We need people to come together and be positive.”

More important than any law or regulation, Snyder said, is “how we treat each other. It’s about being positive, forward looking and inclusive. We need to have high expectations.”

The Associated Press writes that the format Wednesday night seemed to match the governor's personality:

Snyder carries an iPad wherever he goes and seems to embrace his technology-geek persona. He has a Twitter handle of "onetoughnerd" and uses his Facebook page, Rick Snyder for Michigan, to ask for feedback on his policies.

Earlier Thursday, Snyder said he was excited for the chance to harness social media, saying he enjoys the forums "a lot more than speeches."

"That's my traditional favorite forum, are town halls," he told The Associated Press in a Thursday interview in his office across from the Capitol. "I much prefer Q&A where I just get to interact [and] people ask me questions."

The Associated Press reports that Governor Snyder touched on everything from the state's budget surplus, to education funding to taxes on public-worker pensions.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom