Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley will be stepping down at the end of August to be the campain manager for Kalamazoo, Michigan's ballot initiative over an LGBT-inclusive human rights ordinance. Opponents of the ordinance turned in enough signatures last week to force the issue to referendum. Supporters announced the launch of the One Kalamazoo campaign today to keep the inclusive ordinance on the books.
"I love helping an organization to identify what their core competencies are and I feel I've done this with Stonewall," Hoadley told me on a phone interview this morning. "I'm looking forward to the next opportunities available now that the organization is in good shape. There is a board meeting at the end of month that is my last official responsibility. I've been involved [with Stonewall Dems] for the last 5 years in some form or capacity; I'm committed to helping it grow."
Rumors of Hoadley's departure for the Kalamazoo ballot initiative have been circulating for weeks, but Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality (KAFE) Media Coordinator Shawn Brier told Michigan's Between the Lines newspaper on July 9 that Hoadley wasn't going to lead the effort.
"This is all being handled locally, with local talent. We have asked for some help ... but that's what (the Stonewall Democrats) do anyway - they go from state to state, community to community, and help on issues like this," Brier told the paper. "(He'll be helping) by providing his expertise, because he's had experience doing ballot initiatives before. He can help us plan on what to expect next and that sort of thing."
Hoadley's explanation and the interesting local vs professional predicament for Kalamazoo organizers after the jump.
Hoadley explained the statement as a simple miscommunication with the reporter. The KAFE spokesperson was responding to whether or not KAFE would hire Hoadley.
"[KAFE] didn't know if they would have to launch the campaign. Last Sunday we made the decision that we were doing the One Kalamazoo campaign and that was the name and branding and it needed a separate organizational structure. Legally there was no ballot campaign until the 30th. Then we knew we were going to form and then the clock started."
The new One Kalamazoo campaign also named community steering committee members at this morning's press conference. No other paid positions were announced although several rumors are circulating about other LGBT orgs sending in staffers to run the campaign. Hoadley confirmed that other national organizations would be assisting the One Kalamazoo campaign with staffing, volunteers and financial assistance, but wouldn't commit to any certain plans.
"If anyone has resources that they want to bring to the table, we'd love to talk to them. National organizations can help with messaging, voter outreach, raising money, raising visibility. We have a list of ways people can be helpful. The Task Force, HRC, Mara Keisling from National Center for Transgender Equality have all been sounding boards for moving forward. People are coming together to help us win in Kalamazoo," Hoadley said.
Hoadley expects to spend at least $200,000 on the campaign and plans to raise the money from local and national donors. So far the campaign has a couple hundred dollars at it's disposal.
When I asked Hoadley if he thought bringing in a national leader to helm the ballot initative would backfire, he said that bringing in a professional leadership campaign is a hallmark of political campaigns.
"The local community asked me to participate in helping them pass a local ordinance that will help make LGBT lives better. The AFA [American Family Association] is going to send in big guns and spend a lot of money sending out misinformation about our community and our lives. These people aren't local either," Hoadley told me.
"Why top notch resources? National organization have been making investments in the heartland. It's a unique opportunity to tackle right-wing arguments in a complete way; it'll serve as a laboratory for the nation," he said. "This is why the AFA is picking places like Kalamazoo and Gainesville, Florida. They're trying to find new ways to scare voters at a local level and move those lessons forward nationally. We want to fight back and win but do it in a way that diffuses their best arguments and can be used as a model for other communities facing similar fights."
(Photo credit to Adam Taylor)