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LWV League of Women Voters of Ohio
Darke, Miami, Preble, Butler, Mercer, Montgomery Counties, OH November 5, 2002 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Jeff Hardenbrook

Candidate for
US Representatative; District 8

This information is provided by the candidate

Jeff Hardenbrook is a Miami Valley native who is 43 years old and lives in East Dayton. He has been married for 19 years and has 3 school age children who attend Dayton Public Schools.

Jeff grew up in Covington, Ohio, in a family of six children. His father worked two and sometimes three jobs at a time to provide for his family, and was an AFSCME union member. He had a stay-at-home mother who was also a part-time newspaper reporter. Jeff grew up in the country, working on neighboring farms to generate summer spending money. His service orientation was established in his formative years through watching the volunteer activities of his parents and his involvement in his childhood church, the Piqua Church of the Brethren. As Jeff went through school, he participated in cross country, basketball, and track, and attended the Upper Valley Joint Vocational School following the engineering drafting program. After working in drafting for a year, he worked his way through college with the help of Pell grants, guaranteed loans, and the cooperative education program at the University of Cincinnati, where he graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering. During this time he volunteered for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.

In 1983, Jeff married Jill Wenger and moved to Washington DC, where he worked for the government with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The REA provides federal program support (loans and standards) that allows local electric cooperatives to meet rural energy needs by combining cooperative, nonprofit principles, with local initiative. While in DC, Jeff and Jill volunteered in their church soup kitchen and tutored inner-city children.

After living in DC and getting involved with their church and community, and with a deep desire to make a difference, Jeff and Jill headed for Botswana, Africa. They worked with the Mennonite Central Committee and were assigned to the Black Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, doing church, agricultural, and health extension work in the arid Kalahari Desert for 3 years. Jeff believes his experience there "changed me for the better--it even gave me a dry sense of humor. I was taught by the village people around me to be a listener, and to learn from everyone I meet. It also taught me to look at the world from another viewpoint, being thankful for what I have, because most others have a lot less." Traveling with African coworkers in South Africa and Namibia during the apartheid years sensitized Jeff to the realities and nuances of racism, and challenged his own practices and beliefs. The strength and resourcefulness of the Africans, living under extreme drought and government oppression impresses him to this day, especially the way they held their families and communities together. Jill birthed Rachel, their oldest daughter, in Africa with the help of two midwives.

In 1989 the Hardenbrooks returned to the United States, and in 1990 established residence in East Dayton, where they could enjoy a diverse community yet still live near family members. The Hardenbrook family co-founded and coordinated the Interfaith Hospitality Network which helped homeless families live temporarily in houses of worship until other resources could be identified to meet their needs. Jeff and Jill continued their community involvement in their church, St. Paul United Methodist, and continued to build their family. Their other 2 children, Sarah and Bram, were home birthed in Ohio. Jeff and Jill have shared home, childcare, and bread-winner responsibilities.

As a parent, Jeff strongly supports public education and has volunteered with the Dayton Public Schools for more than ten years. From tutoring kindergarten students to representing their school in the district parent-teacher council, he has become increasingly informed on the issues facing the public schools today. He helped the district expand the Montessori program to the middle school level, served on district planning committees, and traveled to Columbus to lobby for better school funding.

Over the past 9 years, Jeff has worked in health care while involved with school and community commitments. Jeff resigned from Stillwater Center, a home for individuals with developmental disabilities, in May to begin full time work on his Congressional campaign. In his free time, he enjoys swimming and biking with family, reading biographies and catching a good movie with Jill.

Jeff plans to positively influence government to provide a sustainable future for our children. He brings a diverse background and wealth of life experiences to the table that will help improve our country's quality of life for working families and seniors. He will fight to provide relief for seniors from high prescription drug costs. He will strive to restore the trust in the Social Security Trust Fund and protect pensions from corporate fraud. He will help strengthen public schools without unfunded mandates and provide resources to make college and job training affordable. Jeff recognizes and appreciates the strong contributions unions have made to American working families and supports their invaluable role in the U.S. economy. Jeff Hardenbrook has been endorsed as the preferred candidate for the U.S. Congress Ohio 8th District by the Democratic Party and State AFL-CIO. For more information on his campaign visit his website at

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: September 17, 2002 16:45
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