Teacher Turned Politician

By Laura Fawaz, TMO


Representative Rudy Hobbs in his Southfield office during his interview.

Southfield, MI–Wanting to change the world, one child at a time, State Representative Rudy Hobbs devoted himself into teaching his first grade students to read.

“I thought that I would change the world by teaching 1st graders how to read in the east side of Detroit.  I’m always looking to figure out how I can give back,” said Representative Hobbs.

After his first year of teaching in 1999, Governor John Engler took over Detroit Public Schools, and ultimately ignited Representative Hobbs’ interest in politics.  “He sparked my interest on how things worked in Lansing and DC.  I wanted to be a part of the solution and not just be one of those guys who only went to monthly meetings,” Representative Hobbs said.

His path began at Michigan State University where he earned a degree in elementary education, and then a master’s degree in education administration.  He started out as a teacher to make a larger impact, but turned to politics for more influence.  While a teacher at heart, Representative Hobbs became frustrated with the education policies of Lansing, and wanted to become a part of the olution.  So his political career began with whatever contribution he could give at the time.  He started first by laying the foundation, making $10 contributions to candidates that he felt had the same values as he did.  In 2003, he left the classroom to work for Congressman Sandy Levin, and in 2004 he ran for school board and started to build the base not only as a school board member, but as a community activist as well.  He was the first African American elected to the school board in Southfield.

Representative Hobbs worked his way up from answering phones on behalf of Congressman Levin, to becoming the manager of the 12th Congressional District Coordinated Campaign in 2006.  In 2010, he ran for state representative, quitting his job to run.  “My wife thought I was crazy, but I needed the time.  We knocked on 3,000 doors.  We did not have a lot of support, but it was significant support that we had.  We won,” explained Representative Hobbs.

Currently in his second term, Representative Hobbs has devoted himself to a life of activism and community service.  Among his current initiatives is a bill for renewable energy laws.  He and his team passed a renewable energy standards bill that is set to expire in 2015.  In this bill, companies are required to use at least 10% renewable energy, and according to Representative Hobbs’ research–it’s not only environmentally friendly, but cheaper too.  Their next plan of action is ‘where do we go from here?’  “Let’s not wait until 2015 to see what we can do … let’s get it done this year and not wait until next year to figure it out,” Representative Hobbs described.

He is also working on a low-income energy assistance program for people all over Michigan who need help paying for their energy bill.  According to Representative Hobbs, republicans had no interest in this, so the plan now is to see how they can put the language in the bill to make this happen?

Immigration is another hot topic issue, with an event on US citizenship, and the next steps on immigrant rights taking place in Southfield next week.  “We have 11 million undocumented people in America.  They are entrepreneurs; these are people that are already making money, said Representative Hobbs, and continued with “when we define ourselves in Detroit, immigration will be a huge part of that.  We need to have those types of communities, such as Mexican village and Dearborn.  That’s the biggest part of our come back-story,” said Representative Hobbs.

Today, Rep. Hobbs serves the residents of the 35th House District, which includes the cities of Southfield, Lathrup Village, Southfield Township, village of Beverly Hills, village of Bingham Farms and village of Franklin. 

A longtime Southfield resident and graduate of Southfield-Lathrup High School, Representative Hobbs still lives in Southfield with his wife and three daughters, still committed to a life of public service and activism.


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