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Jon Hoadley: Ready To Run

Communications dynamo Jon Hoadley is ready to come out from behind the scenes to launch his first run for office. The 30-year-old campaign specialist and community organizer has announced his candidacy for State Representative from the 60th District, which serves Kalamazoo and parts of Kalamazoo Township.
The seat is left up for grabs as Democrat Sean McCann is going to be running for State Senate. Since Kalamazoo is traditionally Democratic, the primary is likely to be the toughest election for Hoadley.
In 2009 Hoadley was recruited by Unity Michigan to help lead the campaign for local human rights ordinances. Kalamazoo is now one of 27 municipalities throughout Michigan that offers protection for LGBT people in terms of housing, employment and public accommodations. Hoadley's job is to make sure people know that in Michigan people can still be fired for being gay or transgender.
He also runs his own consulting business which works with nonprofits, small businesses and political campaigns to tell their stories to make policy change. Through his business, Badland Strategies, Hoadley has advocated against Right to Work, done workplace democracy training, worked with the Michigan Election Coalition to reform election practices, helped explain the Affordable Care Act to the public, and led the effort to get Justice Bridget Mary McCormack elected in the 2012 nonpartisan Supreme Court race.
Kalamazoo is a great home base for his work which reaches statewide. "One of the things that makes Kalamazoo special is it's a strong, vibrant community that cares about social justice. People here aren't afraid to ask 'what do we do about literacy, poverty, racism?'" He noted the successful university atmosphere created by Western Michigan and Kalamazoo Community College, but also the fact that the Kalamazoo Promise program helps ensure that every young person has the funding to go to college.
On top of the educational focus, the area has a strong entrepreneurial culture, full of businesspeople like Hoadley. "There are the things that make me excited about representing Kalamazoo," he said. "I want to bring these focuses to the state level.
"As a small business owner I get the discussions about 'how do we start a business? How do we create jobs?
"We need a real advocate in the legislature for education. It's not just being on the right side of an issue, it's about being a strong voice."
Hoadley attended Michigan State and earned his degree in Social Relations and Womens Studies. There, in 2004, he led a campaign on campus to get students registered to vote, and another pushing for transgender rights on campus. In 2006 he returned to his home state of South Dakota to run a marriage equality campaign. "We lost but we got 48% of the vote, which was amazing. I learned that when you have a thoughtful message and engage people on an issue it can move them," he said. "I also learned that when it comes to important issues, we can never, never, never give up."
After that Hoadley journeyed to Washington DC where he was the Executive Director for the Stonewall Democtrats. "This was an amazing learning opportunity," Hoadley said. "How do you get folks organized all around the country? How do you build a big enough team to make a real impact on the legislature? Overall, I'm more struck by our similarities more than our differences. What is the best way to educate children? How do we create jobs to pay for our bills and keep our families secure? How do we have enough free time to enjoy our lives and families?"
Now that he's been in Kalamazoo for four years, this is where he will stay and has built a family of his own. "It was amazing how quickly I felt at home in Kalamazoo. We built the 2009 campaign on neighbors talking to neighbors. I fell in love with the place and this is my home." He is proud of the fact that the human rights ordinance passed with over 60 percent of the vote.
This will be Hoadley's first campaign where he is the candidate, but he hopes his knowledge of managing others' campaigns will help. "It's a big jump. I know I'll have to set expectations and build something exciting. There are so many good things in Kalamazoo, and I think the key is 'how do we tell these stories?' We need to strongly advocate for our community and share what we've learned here."
Hoadley and his partner Kris live in Kalamazoo with their beagle Benjamin. "We bought a house here in December of 2011 and in January Kris said he wanted to finally get a dog since we had the house for it. So we went to the shelter in Three Rivers called Upcycled Pets. This adorable little girl who was 4 or 5 years old was carrying Benjamin around like he was a stuffed animal. You could tell it wasn't comfortable, but Benjamin was being so nice about it. He has an amazing heart and has been a great addition to our family."



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