By AJ Trager
KALAMAZOO – Running in a seat that largely swings Democratic, candidate Jon Hoadley and CEO of Badlands Strategies, LLC, celebrated a victory on Nov. 4 as the next state elected official in the 60th District.
Along with friends, loved ones and campaign workers, Hoadley celebrated his victory at Metro, the LGBT friendly bar in Kalamazoo. He had spent the few months since the primary working hard to get Reverend John Fisher, running in the 61st District next to Hoadley, elected. Hoadley shot to personally knock on 50-100 doors a day before the election.
“When we are out talking to voters – it gets them elected,” Hoadley said in an interview with BTL before the election. “In gubernatorial years we have significantly less voters; we change that by having real conversations with people.”
Hoadley isn’t wrong. This midterm election saw just over 30 percent of Michigan’s population come out to vote. While the number is similar to other midterm election turnouts, Hoadley and his campaign wanted to see the “Get Out The Vote” stronger than in previous years.
“Every candidate will tell you, you take nothing for granted,” Hoadley said after being asked how confident he was in winning. “This is a choice in the voter’s hands. It is a democracy. This is what democracy looks like.”
The voters turned out to elect Hoadley with 70 percent of the vote and a lead of 8,900 votes over his Republican challenger, Mike Perrin. Even though the Republicans hold a majority in the state house, Hoadley is going to work on improving his top priority, Michigan’s education.
“I am excited to meet with other legislators and build up Michigan. I want to invest in Michigan’s people and their needs,” Hoadley said.
He has a five point plan that starts with doubling down in early childhood education to simple common sense and free items to passing the budget earlier so districts can attract and maintain the best teachers. Hoadley believes that stability is good for high performing teachers and students and will work towards increasing private partnerships in at-risk neighborhoods.
Currently House Bill 5269, which deals with cost per individual student, is sitting in committee in Lansing. According to Hoadley, this is an opportunity to answer the question of how much does it cost to adequately educate Michigan’s children.
“It’s easy to get lost in Gov. Snyder’s billion more for education idea. The question isn’t more or less here, the question is how much more do we need. We need to make it a priority to achieve,” Hoadley pressed. “Like a home improvement budget, just ask how much it is going to cost. It seems like some people are aware.”
College affordability has been a big topic of conversation since the recession hit. Michigan has seen tuition prices continue to rise and college graduates leave the state in large numbers because they cannot find work in their degree field.
“The amount of student debt that they are leaving undergraduates with is crippling. We’ve created this as the type of debt that follows you after you die. We have a significant problem in America: wanting students to obtain more and more education with more debt. It’s only gotten worse under the Republican legislature.”
That Republican legislature is going to continue for at least the next two years. Incumbent governor Rick Snyder was re-elected along with Attorney General Bill Schuette. Michigan Republicans still hold majority in both the state house and state senate.
Before the election, the Kalamazoo Gazette held a forum between Hoadley and his opponents during which they were asked a speed round of questions covering the Right to Work, road funding and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Hoadley was disappointed that nearly every Republican had some form of “I need more information” statement on the Elliott-Larsen question.
“Poll after poll show that voters support equality. So they want to support candidates who share the same idea,” Hoadley said. “We want first amendment voices included. We owe this to Michigan residents.”
Hoadley was encouraged to see Rep. Frank Foster’s original civil rights act amendment bill and will continue to support any bill that has protections for gender identity and sexual orientation, not just one of them.
“Now the question will be if the community makes legislature for everybody,” he said.
What is going to happen to his company, Badland Strategies, LLC, once Hoadley takes office in January? It will change, but not significantly. Hoadley hopes that they will be looking for jobs in other quotients and exploring other ways to help advocates and serve Kalamazoo “first and foremost.” Hoadley promises that his clients will be well looked after and experience a smooth transition.
The 110 members of the newly elected Michigan House of Representatives will begin their new term in January 2015 and will see the inclusion of two openly gay representatives, Jon Hoadley and Jeremy Moss.