Friends of Jon Hoadley

Who am I?

My name is Jon Hoadley and I am a proud member of the Kalamazoo community. After coming here to lead the One Kalamazoo campaign to defend the city’s values of fairness and equality, I stayed and made Kalamazoo my home.

Kalamazoo has welcomed my partner Kris and me as we put down roots and build a life together. He and I bought a house, adopted the world’s best shelter beagle Benjamin, and I started Badlands Strategies, a small business that employs local residents to help people and organizations tell their stories, advocate, and change laws.

My journey did not begin in Kalamazoo. My story began in Vermillion, South Dakota, where I was born. Growing up in a “red state” helped me understand how to work across the aisle and how Democrats can be bold, progressive leaders if they develop personal relationships with the people they serve.

Originally, I came to Michigan to attend school at Michigan State University. My interest in community and public service was further cultivated at Michigan State where I was able to help tell the stories of a coalition of faculty, staff, and students that ultimately led to substantial changes to the school’s nondiscrimination policy. It was a long, five-year battle, but through hard work and determination our campaign was successful.

Michigan State University also afforded me my first opportunity to make a significant contribution on a Presidential campaign. My peers and I organized a local “Students for Dean” chapter, and we also had the opportunity to help Dr. Howard Dean in the Iowa caucuses. This experience was one of the best examples of people powered democracy I had witnessed.

Since college, I have had the opportunity to start my own business, serve as the Executive Director of the National Stonewall Democrats to help the Democratic Party communicate about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues while increasing participation of that population, and running successful statewide campaigns for great progressives like Democracy For America-endorsed Bridget Mary McCormack for Michigan Supreme Court.

I have been blessed with so many opportunities, and I know I owe these opportunities in large part to the family that raised me. I come from a family of teachers who lead through service. My sister, Sara, teaches at-risk youth in an alternative high school. My mom and dad, Diane and Michael, both have long careers in teaching and administration at various universities. As I was growing up, the dinner table conversation often focused on the challenges students face and the new challenges schools and teachers face. How do we do more when we’re constantly given less? How do we adapt to new technology and a changing world? These are the questions that need to be asked in Lansing, and, with your help and the stories of the Greater-Kalamazoo community, I am prepared to help answer them and find common-sense solutions for our students, teachers, and school administrators.

Why am I running?

Kalamazoo and Michigan need and deserve strong leaders to tell the stories of our values and vision for the future. I’m honored that friends and neighbors who encouraged me to run trust me to help tell those stories.

I’m running because Michigan will be making significant choices in the next few years about the future of our state, and some of the choices we make will have repercussions that we won’t be able to correct. We don’t have time to wait. From education, to wealth inequality, to social justice issues and the environment—the decisions we’re making now will determine the Kalamazoo, Michigan, and America we live in tomorrow.

I’m running because Michigan’s children deserve a world-class education that spurs a love of learning and the next generation of innovators. Michigan should invest more, not less, in our schools and support our highly trained, quality educators. It’s time to end the hunt for the worst teachers and find ways to attract and retain the best teachers.

I’m running because we need to end the war on the middle class and working poor that has been waged against the people of Michigan for the last four years. The experiment in unaccountable tax breaks without expectations of job growth should be over. The attack on union workers has not produced jobs. Constant snipping and shaving of social safety net has left our communities and neighborhoods threadbare. We need to encourage jobs that pay a living wage and support the small businesses that create those jobs.

I’m running because Michigan should be a state that is open and welcoming to all. Not only is that the morally right thing to do, but it also will attract and retain the talent we need to thrive. Unfortunately, we live in a state that tolerates racial profiling, gender-based pay discrimination, and constant attacks on gay and transgender families. We can tell the stories of the real-life impact of these inequalities and create partnerships between the law and community organizations to reduce them.

I’m running because there’s a lot of work to do – a lot of stories to tell. Michigan’s legislature can address these issues, and that’s why we need a change. Kalamazoo deserves a strong voice to tell our stories.

My Goals

We’re building a campaign where every person has a role to play in our success. Equally important, everyone will have a responsibility to keep us on track.

If I have the privilege of serving Kalamazoo in the Michigan legislature, three of my top priorities will include increasing education funding, attracting and retaining the best teachers in our state, and amending the statewide civil rights law to include protections for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Increasing Education Funding

The steady drain on funding for our children has progressed from school districts “trimming the fat” to “cutting the bone”. State funding per student has decreased in inflation-adjusted dollars and higher legacy costs have been passed on to local districts. We’re past the point of “slicing the pie differently” — we need to make more pie.

In the state legislature, I will work to increase funding to our students and school districts. Investing in the next generation is investing in our future.

Over the past three years, I have worked on projects to support a progressive budget narrative, especially in the area of education funding. I will continue that work.

Attracting and Retaining the Best Teachers

It breaks my heart to hear teachers tell me they would not encourage their students to follow in their footsteps because of concerns about safety, respect, stability, and compensation of our teachers here in Michigan.

Coming from a family of teachers, I know people do not enter the profession for salary or glory, but because of a deep commitment to investing in young people. They remember the teachers that inspired them when they were young and want to pay it forward.

Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to focus on punishing the few underperforming teachers rather than encouraging and fostering the best and brightest teachers.

My academic background in creating livable communities that attract and retain talent will allow me to work with our school districts and institutions of higher learning to prioritize retaining talent here in Michigan. With a family history that is deeply rooted in schooling at various levels, I know that we can find common-sense solutions to making sure our teachers feel prepared and effective. I hope to bring these experiences to the table with experts and practitioners working on the challenge of recruiting our next generation of educators.

Amending the Statewide Civil Rights Law

Michigan is one of 29 states that do not have protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people go to work every day with the fear of being fired or denied a promotion for something that has nothing to do with their job performance.

I’ve been supporting and directing a coalition of organizations across the state, called Unity Michigan, for the last four years to change the law. As a result of our work, 13 communities and over 363,000 people now have local ordinances prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity based discrimination.

My DFA Values

Government has the power to do good in the world when good people power the government. I fundamentally believe a candidate who supports community, security, and liberty begins with an inclusive platform to engage more people.

If given the privilege to serve, I will do my best to promote a community where we support our neighbors and care for our families. I will work with experts in the field of education and draw from my background to invest in education for all. I will also apply the lessons learned as a small business owner to sustainable growth and fiscal responsibility.

If given the privilege to serve, I will do my best to support policies that provide security to all. We will encourage an open dialogue so security is not confused as merely force. We will fight to preserve our national resources that make Michigan great. We will invest in the best thinkers, doers, builders, movers, makers—and the educators that train them to achieve their full potential. We will work to promote peaceful solutions before armed conflict.

If given the privilege to serve, I will do my best to champion liberty. We will encourage the freedom of speech and the space for all people to worship—or not—as they see fit. We will continue the movement we’ve built to bring about equality for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in our workplaces, homes, and relationships. We will continue to advocate for an end to discrimination in pay based on gender and police protection based on race. We will take back our Democracy for people—not corporations—by supporting increased transparency in who is fueling legislation and ensure greater privacy for our personal information.

My Campaign is People Powered!

The first campaign I ever managed was a statewide ballot measure in South Dakota to try to defeat an anti-gay marriage ban. Although we came up 2% shy of victory, it taught me valuable lessons about building campaigns powered by people.

Since South Dakota, I’ve tried to find ways to invest in the power of people at every opportunity. Whether it was through chapter-based organizing across the country as Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats or managing the successful One Kalamazoo nondiscrimination campaign that recruited over 200 local volunteers and sparked an additional 13 municipalities to pass nondiscrimination protections in Michigan, I have found success comes with putting people first.

In our campaign for state representative, we’re already investing in people to win. Our campaign has recruited over 1,500 people to help spread our message on social media. We’re investing in eight significant internship positions. We’ve already completed six house parties with another seven scheduled for the beginning of 2014. We’re training volunteers, asking people to send friend-to-friend postcards, and encouraging donations of all sizes.

As we move into 2014, we’ll win this campaign by building on the good people already involved. We must build a team of credible, local messengers who are not afraid to talk to our neighbors and community members directly about the issues we care most about. We will then track and repeat those conversations all the way through the primary and general election.

Voice support


  • Christopher Bradford
  • Regina Calcagno
  • Melissa Bouman
  • Travis Ballie, MD
  • Greg Martin
  • Mark LaChey
  • Molly Maldonado
  • Deon Young
  • Andy McKinnon
  • Amy Hunter
...and 41 more.

About the Endorsement Process

The driving force behind all DFA endorsements is our members. We recognize that all politics is local and that what is considered progressive in Los Angeles may be very different from what's considered progressive in Louisville. For this reason, DFA does not have a litmus test of specific progressive positions for which a candidate must stand. Our endorsement is heavily weighted based on these questions:

• Will the candidate move the progressive movement forward in their community?
• Does the candidate have substantial support from our local members?
• Do the candidate's positions and policies fit into the broader progressive movement?
• Is the campaign people-powered and the candidate working to win?

If you have questions, or want to let us know about a candidate in your neighborhood, please call us at (802) 651-3200 or email us at [email protected] .

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