• Jason Hoskins. Photo courtesy of Jason Hoskins

Southfield City Councilmember Could Become Michigan’s First Black, Openly LGBTQ+ State Legislator

Candidate wants LGBTQ+ students of color to learn their history

By |2022-07-05T08:18:30-04:00July 5th, 2022|Michigan, News|

According to State Sen. Jeremy Moss, Jason Hoskins is the most prepared person to run for the State House District 18 seat — probably more prepared than Moss was when first elected back in 2014.

Jason Hoskins, candidate for Michigan’s 18th house district, said it was his internship in then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s public policy division that sparked his passion for politics and helped shape the man he is today. Now in his second term as Southfield city councilmember, and with almost a decade working for two state legislators in Lansing behind him, Hoskins believes he has the experience to be ready on day one to tackle the issues important to his community and to the state.

“I interned in [Granholm’s] policy division and had a fantastic experience shaping public policy for the state,” Hoskins said. “That experience led me down this path of public service, and I wouldn’t be here today or [have] met so many of the wonderful people I’ve met in politics without that experience.”

The 18th State House District includes Southfield, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Farmington and Farmington Hills. Two-term state representative Kyra Harris Bolden, who would be eligible to run for that position in the newly drawn district, has opted, instead, to run for Michigan Supreme Court this term. “We’re very happy about that,” Hoskins said. With Bolden off the ballot for the house seat, Hoskins stepped in to compete in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary election. 

In 2019, when Hoskins was first elected to the Southfield City Council, he had no idea that within a few months a global pandemic would upend business as usual. Yet Hoskins remained focused on helping Southfield move forward. 

“Even through [Covid], we’ve been able to do a lot of great things,” Hoskins said. “One, we didn’t have to lay off any employees at the city, which is something that a lot of cities had to do because of COVID. We also made a number of police reforms because of the issues with policing that we saw following the George Floyd murder.” Hoskins was also excited to talk about the Northland redevelopment, which will bring retail and much-needed housing to Southfield. He plans to continue addressing the lack of affordable housing statewide.

“We’ve hired a diversity, equity and inclusion officer for the city,” Hoskins added. “And now we look at the equity impacts of what we’re doing — in everything we do — much like we look at the fiscal impact of what we’re doing. And that’s something that I spearheaded. I went to a conference in March, and I found out a city in Oregon was doing it. And I was like, ‘Oh, we should really be doing that here in the city.’”

From the time Hoskins began working for State Rep. Rudy Hobbs through his eight years with State Sen. Jeremy Moss, including while Moss was a state representative, he has been a staunch advocate for his community. 

“He’s done an incredible job progressing in this role,” Moss said of Hoskins. “He knows the full scope of the office from constituent services to legislating. And in 2019, he made a decision to seek public office on his own, and I was really glad that he did. He was already known by the residents of Southfield as a problem solver in our office.”

Hoskins named a few of his accomplishments during his tenure in Moss’s office, including a bipartisan bill package on housing, efforts to combat price gouging during Covid and promoting transparency through legislation compelling the state legislature and governor’s office to comply with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Moss called Hoskins his “right-hand person.”

“Jason helped me to work on proposals to strengthen the law in Michigan that would go after price gouging,” Moss said. “He literally read 30 other state statutes on price gouging to figure out where did Michigan lack protections for our consumers and how can we remedy that? And as a result, we introduced legislation last session, which we’re gearing up to reintroduce with the support of Attorney General Dana Nessel. That is Jason’s research.”

If elected, one of Hoskins’ priorities is to improve state revenue sharing. Simply put, his district is not getting its due when it comes to infrastructure. 

“Right now, everyone around the state gets the same amount of money to fix their roads,” Hoskins pointed out. “And you know, quite frankly, in Metro Detroit, our roads are getting used a lot more than somewhere up north. And so, changing that formula is very critical to making sure that we are spending extra money on communities [that] are spending extra money on their roads when they could be using that money in other places.”

Combating voter suppression is also critical to Hoskins’ platform. Because of his passion for voting rights and civil rights generally, Hoskins started a chapter of the ACLU while he was a law student at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and subsequently served in leadership positions within the organization. Previously, after earning a degree in political science at Eastern Michigan University, Hoskins then earned a master’s in public administration with a concentration in local government. He has also worked as an adjunct professor at Lawrence Tech University.

Because it was through Hoskins’ initiative that the city of Southfield established a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) position, Pride Source asked his take on the backlash that school boards are increasingly experiencing from parents and government officials related to bogeymen called “CRT” and “DEI,” which are simply letters that signify the “radical left.” Hoskins is impatient with those who are suspicious of what diversity might bring. 

“Our diversity is our strength,” Hoskins said, speaking specifically of Southfield. “You know, [we have] great housing and great housing prices; we’ve been named one of the best places to start a small business, one of the best places for Black women to flourish financially. And one of the best places for seniors to retire. We’re doing pretty good. And I think part of it is because we embrace diversity.”

Hoskins said the backlash against critical race theory (CRT), which has never been part of the K-12 public school curriculum, is not only overtly racial — it is plainly racist. What Hoskins advocates for is cultural competency in education. He’s particularly concerned that LGBTQ+ students and students of color learn their history in this country, too.

If elected, Hoskins would be the first Black openly LGBTQ+ member of the Michigan state Legislature. He said that while he didn’t seek out that distinction, he recognizes that being a “first” comes with it a certain responsibility.

“When you’re talking about banning critical race theory, and you’re potentially thinking about bringing up ‘Don’t say gay’ bills, I think it is very important to have people of color speaking out and queer people of color speaking out,” Hoskins said. “And so that is a responsibility that I know I’ll have if I’m elected, but it’s certainly a responsibility I’m willing to take on because it’s needed. 

“And I hope that if somebody else sees another queer person of color stepping up, they too will see that it’s OK. And they’re able to step up as well.”

Learn more about Hoskin’s campaign at votejasonhoskins.com. Early voting has begun. Vote now through Aug. 2.

About the Author:

Ellen Knoppow is a writer who believes in second acts. She is the recipient of the 2022 award for Excellence in Transgender Coverage by NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.