ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Students at Grand Valley State University received visits on Thursday from three different candidates running for governor.
Democratic candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed visited the Pew campus in Grand Rapids as a featured speaker for the Public Health Society. He wasn't formally rallying for votes, but still advocating for his platform.
“The fact that we continue to allow a pipeline to run through the Straits of Mackinac where it could poison our Great Lakes," El-Sayed tells FOX 17. "The fact that we have PFAS in the water here in Kent County, the fact that we have a continuing water crisis; look, people in Flint still don’t have clean water 1,400 days since the outset of this disaster. And the fact that people keep getting their water shut off, this is a responsibility that all of us as Michiganders have."
Some GVSU public health students tell FOX 17 that when they go out to vote, improving access to healthcare is high on their list of priorities.
"When voting, I'm a lot less concerned with political party and more concerned with somebody that understands that health is so much more than medical care," said GVSU student Sydney Bonifer.
El-Sayed argued that improving Michigan's public health is not a partisan issue.
"If we’re not about keeping people safe and healthy, then what’s the point of government in the first place?" he said. "This is something that I think we can find consensus across the aisle on."
Later on Thursday, Dr. Jim Hines and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, two of four Republican gubernatorial candidates, visited the Allendale campus to debate issues like infrastructure and the state's access to clean water.
"We need clean, drinkable water," Hines tells FOX 17. "One of our slogans for Michigan is 'Pure Michigan' and as I travel around America, people just kind of laugh."
"I'm truly trying to make sure that we have the best solutions for the people of Michigan, not just the solutions that are handed to us by lobbyists," Colbeck tells FOX 17.
Noticeably missing from the stage were the other two frontrunning Republican candidates for governor: Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
"If [Schuette] were to go off and get the nomination, is that the type of person you want actually going off and debating Democrats?" Colbeck said. "Is he gonna do the same thing with them and say 'Hey, sorry whoever the Democratic nominee is, we don't want to talk to them?'"
Some students say for them, character comes before party.
"I'm looking for someone who's honest," said Tim McKeeby, chairman of GVSU's College Republicans. "I'm looking for a people person. I'm looking for someone who's 'Yes, I'm a Republican but you're a human being and I will help everyone.' Someone who's willing to talk to the other side."
The other two frontrunning Democrats for governor are Gretchen Whitmer and Shri Thanedar.