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11.7.19 News about local Dems and coming events

Well, we’re now less than a year from the 2020 election. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama at the national level. And yes, it’s important to stay informed as it unfolds. 

But it’s just as important—maybe more important—to tune into what’s happening closer to home and to build energy and community with our fellow Dems! 

This month, our newsletter is about all things “local”—people and events that support our party in Kalamazoo County. We’re strongest when we work together, each pitching in however we can. Join us! 

 District offices allow remarkable access  

Think you know all about the 60th District Service Office of State Rep Jon Hoadley and the 20th District Office of State Senator Sean McCann

Ok, but do you know how very lucky we are to have them in our community? 

There are only five district House offices and three district Senate offices in the entire state! Which means we enjoy a remarkable level of constituent service—and access to our elected officials.

Located side-by-side at 315 N. Burdick St. in downtown Kalamazoo, the offices are run by Melissa Fish and Jack Levy, both WMU grads. Fish has worked with Jon Hoadley in various capacities since 2013 and became director of the 60th DSO 2 years ago. Levy worked on the McCann campaign and completed WMU’s Capital Intern program before joining the 20th District Office earlier this year. 

Both offices offer assistance to all constituents, regardless of political persuasion. This includes 

  • Relaying concerns voiced by individuals and groups to local and state offices
  • Seeking constituents’ reactions to pending legislation
  • Helping folks navigate the bureaucracies of local and state government to get the information and services they need
  • Making referrals to community social-service organizations and even arranging emergency assistance with necessities like housing, transportation and food

So on any given day, Fish or Levy may help someone connect with their DHS caseworker, report a phone scam to the Consumer Protection Division of the state Attorney General’s office, or track down the status of a tax refund.   

“For a lot of people, the district office is not their first thought for where to go for help,” Fish says. “But we provide a human interaction right away, and can work with people directly to get the services or information they need.” In 2018, the 60th DSO assisted more than 1,100 constituents. 

Fish and Levy collaborate to build relationships with the community’s vast network of government and social service resources. The staffers also work on fundraising events, community outreach, and arranging times for their reps to meet one-on-one with constituents. 

To accomplish all this, they get help from dedicated student interns and long-time office volunteers, including Martha Cohen (60th District) and Pam Gilchrist (20th District).   

Both offices are open from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, so Levy and Fish are pulled in every direction all week long. But what that means, Levy says, is that we see first-hand what issues are going on in the community—what needs aren’t being met, and how we can try to resolve those issues, either through working with various organizations and state departments or through legislation.”  

Volunteer, donate, or get in touch

Melissa Fish, Director

60th District Service Office of State Representative Jon Hoadley


(269) 382-4676

Jack Levy, District Manager

20th District Office of State Senator Sean McCann


(269) 381-7158 

Sandy Kristen

She was hooked when…

“I grew up in a very Republican household, but as I became more aware of the world around me, I realized I was on the wrong team. I got involved in politics after the assassinations of JFK and, more specifically, MLK. I joined Action Now, and my first big campaign was to get Howard Wolpe elected to the Kalamazoo City Commission. (He squeaked in at 7th place.)” 

Why volunteer?

“I feel it’s necessary to promote the causes in which I believe—to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Nancy Crowell and I are co-chairs for the KCDP Mail Team, and at campaign time we can also be seen putting up yard signs, delivering meals to poll watchers, and being gophers for whatever else needs to be done.”

Something you may not know about Sandy… 

“When I was in junior high, I was the bat girl for the Grand Rapids Chicks, one of the baseball teams in the AAGPBL (A League of Their Own). A wonderful memory!”


Many thanks to everyone who helped make the Brown/Todd/Wolpe Award Ceremony & Fundraiser—our biggest event of the election cycle—an unparalleled success!

On October 12th, we celebrated the individual contributions of our awardees and the strength of the Kalamazoo County Democrats—a force to be reckoned with in 2020.

Development Director Margy Belchak reports that the fundraiser netted nearly $30,000, surpassing our goal by $5,000! These funds will help us elect Dems up and down the ticket next year. 

L-R: MDP Chair and keynote speaker Lavora Barnes, Jo Ann Betz Volunteer Award winner Betsy Rice, Ed LaForge Dedication Award winner Namita Sharma, KCDP Chair Jake Andrews, Brown/Todd/Wolpe Award winner Larry Provancher, and Ed LaForge Dedication Award winner Bobby Hopewell. 

A standing-room-only crowd packed Niko’s Landing. 

Mark your calendar for the KCDP’s 2019 Women’s Luncheon this Friday, November 8, noon – 1:30pm at Theo and Stacy’s Restaurant, 4311 S. Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo. Visit with old friends and meet new ones as we rally around our elected women Democrats! All are welcome. Come as you are and buy your own lunch. To help us reserve enough space, RSVP to Hadlee Robinson, 2nd-vice-chair@kzoodems.com.

Feeling festive or just need some exercise? Join the KCDP, the Jon Hoadley for Congress campaign, and State Senator Sean McCann for the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade on Saturday, November 16. Parade organizers ask that we wear festive holiday attire, so we’re suggesting a snowflake theme (colors: blue/white/silver). Please arrive at our staging location, Greenstreet 7 (Portage Road in front of WMU Homer Stryker Medical school) by 10am. We are unit #55. The parade steps off at 10:45am on a 2-mile route through downtown that begins and ends at the Bronson parking lot on Lovell St. Questions? Email kushi@jonhoadley.com for details.  

MDP speaker, Hayley Alderman

Everyone is welcome to attend our monthly KCDP “Third Thursday” meeting on November 21 at Traveler’s Cafe and Pub, 5225 Portage Rd, Portage. From 5:30 – 6:30pm, Hayley Alderman, director of party affairs for the Michigan Democratic Party, will give two 30-minute presentations: The 2020 National Convention Delegate Process and Growing our Local Party 101. Our business meeting will follow, from 6:30 – 8pm. Free of charge; no reservation necessary. Order dinner, just a beverage, or nothing at all, but do join us! Questions? Email info@kzoodems.com.

On December 1, we resume full-time occupancy of our office, which was subleased this year to conserve funds for 2020. You can stop in at 3254 S. Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo (near White’s Road) to register to vote, join KCDP, or sign up to volunteer. Until Dec. 1, the office is open on Saturdays from 10am – 2pm. Hours will be extended after Dec. 1.  

Mark your calendars for the annual KCDP Holiday Party, on Thursday, December 19, 6 – 9pm—location, ticket cost and other details to be announced. This festive fundraiser takes the place of our regular monthly “Third Thursday” meeting in December. For information contact Margy Belchak, fundraising@kzoodems.com

Regena Nelson

“I believe government policies and programs should provide a safety net for people who need it during times of crisis. I’m a Democrat because I want to live in a beloved community where we take care of each other and our environment.”

Get involved! 

Send newsletter content to Jennifer Snyder: newsletter@kzoodems.com

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You can join the KCDP here. Send KCDP membership questions to Nora Gimpel: membership@kzoodems.com.

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And remember to stay in touch on our website

Thanks for reading!