Bradley Hardy says he caught the politics bug at a county commissioners meeting.
He was a Forbush High School student who wanted to see the addition of a science building to his school. He had never had a public speaking experience before, but he swallowed his fears and made his argument to the commissioners. By the end he received a standing ovation from the audience, and he knew politics was now a part of him.
“I like seeing stuff happen,” Hardy said. “[Politics is] one of the few endeavors in my life where I get to see real world results. The fact that those additions exist at the schools now proves to me that when people come together and really push for something then things actually get done.”
Hardy was born and raised in Yadkin County. He attended West Yadkin Elementary and Yadkinville Elementary before moving on to Forbush High School.
Following his successful presentation to commissioners, Hardy decided to found the Yadkin County Teen Democrats at Forbush and acted as president during his years there.
“Surprisingly enough we had the largest chapter in the state, even bigger than Wake or Mecklenberg counties,” Hardy said. “That was just great for Yadkin County because it’s not exactly a bastion for progressive, liberal thought, so the fact that we had such a large group was just incredible.”
His hard work and successful club didn’t go unnoticed, and the state’s Democratic Party members encouraged Hardy to get more involved on a state level. He took their suggestion and ran with it becoming the vice president of the state’s teen Democrat group.
After graduation, Hardy went on to UNC-Asheville to pursue a degree in political science. He continued his work with the party becoming secretary for the state’s college Democrats group and eventually progressing to vice president and president.
“That was an awesome opportunity, and it sent me all across the state,” Hardy said. “I would go to class during the week, and on the weekends I would travel to other colleges across the state.”
In 2008 Hardy got involved in the presidential race and joined President Barack Obama’s primary campaign. This opportunity landed him with Obama’s camp in Ohio during the primary and earned him an election as a delegate in the 2008 Democratic Convention.
“That is probably the proudest thing I’ve ever done because I get to tell everyone I voted for Barack Obama three times,” Hardy said. “I voted for him in the primaries, at the convention and then again in the general election. I was also the youngest delegate in North Carolina, which was pretty cool.”
In 2012 Hardy received a call from Walter Smith, a fellow Yadkin native, who was running for NC Commissioner of Agriculture and wanted Hardy as his campaign manager. Hardy graciously accepted and returned to his hometown for the first time in six years.
“We didn’t win but it was a tremendous learning experience,” Hardy said. “I got to travel all over North Carolina once again and go to different events and really learn what it’s like to run a state-wide campaign.”
Since November Hardy has been carrying out his duties as treasurer for the NC Democratic Party’s Fifth Congressional District, he’s a member of the state’s executive committee representing Yadkin County and he’s on the executive board for the congressional district party.
Hardy has also been instrumental in the creation and implementation of two activist groups in the county. He has become very active in El Cambio, an organization that works to promote civil rights for immigrants in the area.
He’s also helped create a group that addresses LGBT issues in the county.
“We just did that, and we’ve had about two meetings. It’s been really cool to see people come out of the shadows and start participating,” Hardy said. “We had a ‘queer picnic’ last Friday and there were about 20 people there. It was just people coming together for fellowship and to talk about important issues, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first pride event that’s ever happened in Yadkin County.”
Hardy said that his fellow Yadkin residents do not always support the issues he fights for.
“When we had our event several people drove by and screamed profanities at us but we just want to respond with love and respect,” Hardy said. “You’re fighting for a political issue, which always opens you up to criticism. At the same time you’re doing something very personal by coming out, which is also very scary and you’re constantly doing that with each new audience that you speak to.”
Hardy said that as a former Boy Scout and Eagle Scout he is also an active member of Scouts For Equality.
Hardy said that many people assume that he has big plans to run for a political office but that is not at the top of his list of goals at the moment. He plans to head back to UNC-Asheville and finish up his political science degree before returning home to Yadkin.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.