FLINT, MI – Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, a Republican candidate for governor, addressed the concerns of deaf Flint residents during a town hall event on Saturday, May 12.

“I’m a relationship driven person,” Calley said. “A lot of what I bring to the table is based on experience and feedback that I get from people across our state.”

The event, which was hosted by the Flint Association of the Deaf, lasted more than 90 minutes and was attended by over a dozen.

“It’s not often that us in the deaf community have a face to face with somebody from the government,” one guest told Calley. “We still have about 70% of members of the deaf community that are unemployed. I’m talking about able bodied people, meaning they’re just deaf. They’re not deaf plus a disability. We have a lot to offer in society.”

Questions the lieutenant governor was asked at the event largely focused on education and jobs.

Calley’s responses promised to look into offering ASL as a foreign language option in public schools, expanding our education focus from STEM to STEAM by adding arts into the curriculum, providing closed captions on live streams of legislative sessions, and expanding opportunities for members of the deaf community to work in both the public and private sector.

Polling from Public Opinion Strategies shows Bill Schuette, the Republican front-runner, having a 22-point lead on Calley, who polled at 20-percent support. Patrick Colbeck and Jim Hines trail Calley with 6-percent and 2-percent support, respectively, among surveyed Michigan Republicans. However, recent polling by EPIC-MRA shows Schuette losing in hypothetical general election match-ups against Democrats Gretchen Whitmer and Shri Thanedar. The third Democratic candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, was not polled against Schuette.

Calley has been endorsed by incumbent Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, while Schuette has picked up the endorsements of President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and former Michigan Governor John Engler. Colbeck has received the endorsements of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

All four Republican candidates for governor met in the first of two televised debates May 10. WDIV-TV will host the second official GOP debate on June 28. Schuette, Calley, Colbeck, and Hines have all agreed to participate.

Michigan Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians will vote to choose their nominees on Aug. 7.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...