Watershed Voice sent out questionnaires to over 30 candidates in contested local, state, and national races in St. Joseph County and the surrounding area for the November 3 General Election. In the days leading up to Election Day, Watershed will publish the answers it has received. Jon Hoadley, a Democratic candidate for Michigan’s Sixth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, filled out our questionnaire. These are his answers.
Name: Jon Hoadley
Party affiliation: Democrat
Are you an incumbent? No
Family (optional): I live with my partner, Kris, and the world’s friendliest beagle, Benjamin.
I come from a family of educators. My mom and dad were university professors and administrators, and many of my aunts and cousins have been teachers. My sister, Sara, became a teacher too, but she was forced to leave the profession because her paycheck barely covered the cost of childcare.
Growing up, dinner table conversations and family gatherings usually found a way to drift into what’s working and not working in the classroom. My parents taught me the values of serving my community, being there for family, working hard, having access to good education, and doing the right thing.
I’ve been a State Representative serving Kalamazoo for the last 5 years, where I’ve fought to invest more in education, build an economy that works for everyone, and protect our clean air and water.
When I was elected to serve as State Representative, I championed a consistent set of ideas: we should invest in education for today and tomorrow, build an economy that works for everyone, and fight for social justice and a clean environment. We’ve seen progress on these issues, but there’s more work to do.
Have you previously held public office, or have you served in a public leadership role? If so, what is your experience, and what are some of your accomplishments?
I’m currently a State Representative in Kalamazoo, MI. As a state legislator, I served as the Minority Vice Chair on the Appropriations Committee, helping to craft our state’s $60 billion budget. In my community I have served on numerous boards and committees in both the non-profit and civic sectors. I previously ran a business and a non-profit organization and know the challenges too many of our small business face.
In your opinion, what are the three most important issues to the area you are seeking to represent and its constituents, and why?
Healthcare, environment, and education.
My partner Kris lives with multiple sclerosis, which means I’ve seen firsthand the power that insurance companies have been given in our healthcare system. Families shouldn’t have to worry about the cost of their care and prescription drugs in order to simply stay healthy.
We live in the Great Lakes state, yet we’re in the midst of a drinking water crisis because corporate polluters are consistently given passes to contaminate our groundwater. The state of environment requires bold action in order to preserve our air and water for future generations.
Here in the 6th District, our current Representative has takens tens of thousands of dollars from the DeVos family and has failed to stand up to Betsy DeVos’ agenda as Secretary of Education. Our communities rely on thriving public schools, and it’s time we elect leaders who will prioritize meaningful investments in our education system.
What measures will you pursue to address those issues?
We all have strong feelings on healthcare, and at the end of the day that’s for the same reason – we all want the best care possible for ourselves and our families, and we don’t want to have to worry about affording life-saving care or medications. Our healthcare system is broken, and it’s going to take a lot to fix it. I am supportive of Medicare for All, one of the pieces I really like is how the current version of the bill tackles long-term care supports for seniors, something that I have been working on in the Legislature.
However, I’m not wedded to only one way of solving the healthcare crisis – that’s why in the Legislature I have supported multiple ways forward including a state-based single-payer system or public option allowing people to buy into Medicaid to hold the line on rising costs. I am committed to fighting for any and all health care policy that holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for responsible drug prices, that provides better care to our children and families including in rural settings, and that promotes the principle that healthcare is a human right.
Climate change is already resulting in intense and unpredictable natural disasters, changes in the health of our food crops, drought and water problems, and more. Severe weather due to climate change is disrupting global supply chains and putting Michigan companies and the state’s economy at risk – in the last five years, the state has experienced 11 climate- or weather-related disasters that each topped $1 billion in damages affecting farmers, manufacturers and other businesses across the state.
We must take urgent and bold action to address the climate crisis and invest in sustainable infrastructure to meet the energy demands of the 21st century.
When allocating resources, we should also be mindful of what student and teacher success really looks like. Preparing the next generation of learners and leaders can’t be done with standardized tests alone. Schools and educational institutions that are underfunded require more of our resources, not fewer. Jon also supports funding for recruiting BIPOC teachers to increase diversity in our education system.
After high school, we need to prepare our young people for their next step. Whether that be a community college, a four-year university, a trade/vocational program, or other training, young people should feel empowered to pursue the future of their choice. For that reason, I am supportive of free college tuition, expanding Pell Grants, as well as student loan debt forgiveness.
Especially in the age of coronavirus, our priority needs to be on teachers and students. Ensuring that they’re able to be in a school environment without compromising their health needs to be at the heart of any education legislation right now.
What are the three most important national issues in your opinion? What is your position on those issues?
I believe healthcare, the environment, and our schools are the most important national issues as detailed above.
Do you agree that the American electorate is divided right now? If your answer is yes, what measures do you think elected officials can take to bring Americans together?
The American electorate is divided because too many leaders stoke the flames of division. We need to put real democracy reforms into place to make sure voters know their votes count, and politicians are actively seeking the win the majority of voters’ support–not the money of big donors and special interests.
I believe in nationwide reforms to end gerrymandering, improve ethics, reduce the role of money in politics and dark money organizations, and defend our right to vote. I support a strong, independent press. I believe Representatives should be held accountable to their electorate, which is why I took the Town Hall Pledge to hold at least 4 town halls per year. These reforms can bring us back together.
How long have you lived in the area you are seeking to represent?
Why did you choose to run for the position that you did?
Whether it’s skyrocketing prescription drug costs, global threats to manufacturing and agriculture, or deteriorating air and water quality, our country is facing massive threats to our economic security and the future of our families. The politics and partisanship of Washington are making matters worse instead of better. And if we want to change our politics, we need to change the politicians who are supposed to be fighting for us.
I’m running for Congress because it’s time we put people and community back at the center of our decisions. It’s time we face the future and our country’s challenges head on with fresh ideas.
In your view, what role should the person in the office you are seeking serve?
At the heart of our campaign is the principle that people and community belong at the center of decision-making. I whole-heartedly believe that the role of a Representative is to work diligently to deliver solutions for the people of their district that are prioritized around their best interests, not the interests of PACs or lobbyists.
Over the past several months, pandemic has required virtual meetings for many public bodies. Some are returning to in-person meetings, while others are not. Where do you stand on this both with respect to safety and to public access?
I recently voted for legislation that would allow communities and boards to continue to meet remotely. I believe we should follow the science. When public health experts say it is safe for large gatherings to resume, then we can look at balancing previous rules. Perhaps we can integrate some of the remote tools to enhance our in-person meetings.
What other comments do you have regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
We are trying to adapt to the COVID-19 situation, and that means virtual learning for a lot of parents. But our small businesses and so many of our rural neighbors have been dealing with bad internet for a very long time. I’m proud that just last week, I was able to vote for a bill that’s going to invest in rural broadband. I’m ready to deliver results on these issues. We’ve seen gridlock that’s come from campaign financial issues because some of the biggest telecoms are making the biggest donations to keep things the way they are.
But the way that things are, aren’t working for a lot of people. I’m ready to make sure that we are removing some of the restrictions that let the biggest telecom companies have a monopoly on our markets. I’m ready to make sure that we’re allowing co-ops in private and public investment in both our urban and rural broadband. Let’s make sure more of our customers, constituents and friends get the best internet in the world.
Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?
I believe strongly that we need to put people and our communities back at the center of the decisions being made in Washington, DC. I come from a family of teachers and educators, I’ve run a small business and know the stress of trying to make a payroll, pay taxes, and provide health insurance, and I have experience moving important issues that impact our lives–like more access to long-term care.
When my partner was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, my family experienced the same challenges that too many families face in southwest Michigan, like fights with insurance companies, expensive prescription drugs, and worrying about losing your health insurance entirely. If we haven’t solved these major challenges with our current elected Representatives in DC who have had decades to get it right, it’s time to change who represents us in DC.