Raised on a family farm in Van Buren County, Tonya has been a lifelong resident of Southwest Michigan. She and her husband Steve have raised their two children, Jordan and Savina, on the same farm.
Tonya was an attorney in private practice for ten years, handling a wide variety of civil, business, criminal and family cases, and has since served as a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, law-and-order conservative in the state legislature. Tonya won in counties President Obama carried twice, both because of her conservative record and achievements on life touching issues, including combating drug addiction, cracking down on drunk driving, supporting veterans and seniors, and helping crime victims.
At an early age, Tonya learned the value of hard work, picking asparagus early mornings and after school, and she was instilled with the determination to do what is right. Tonya also learned the importance of serving others as her family made it a point of helping foster children and being active in the community. Those lessons have given her a strong foundation and a desire to give back through public service.
Tonya is a 1986 graduate of Mattawan High School. She holds a B.A. in business from Michigan State University and in 1993 she earned her Juris Doctor and graduated Cum Laude from the Detroit College of Law.
After earning her law degree, Tonya became a practicing attorney and partner at the Paw Paw law firm Schuitmaker, Cooper and Schuitmaker, where she concentrated in family, estate, business, and municipal law. She was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association in 1993. From 1997 to 1998 Tonya was President of the Van Buren County Bar Association.
Pursuing her interest in public service, Tonya ran for the State House where she won by strong majorities in 2004, 2006 and 2008. During her terms in the House, Tonya held a number of leadership roles including Assistant Minority Floor Leader.
In 2010, Tonya was elected to the Michigan Senate and was chosen by her colleagues to serve as President Pro Tempore, only the second woman to ever hold this leadership position. She serves on the Appropriations Committee and is Chairperson of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. She also serves on the Judiciary, and Energy & Technology.
Tonya has worked on a number of initiatives, such as:
- A Senior Protection package that cracks down on elder abuse and gives law enforcement better tools to protect our loved ones.
- Battling drunk driving, which earned her ‘Legislator of the Year’ by Mothers Against Drunk Driving two years in a row.
- Working closely with law enforcement. Tonya received ‘Legislator of the Year’ awards from the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, Michigan Association of Police Chiefs, and Michigan Probate Judges.
- Combating drug addiction by passing legislation and serving on the Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force.
- Expanded DNA collection to prisoners, resulting in numerous cold cases being solved.
- Legislation that prevents courts from dropping charges of assault or domestic violence if the accused had been previously convicted of an assaultive crime.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: Tonya Schuitmaker has been or is currently involved in the following civic organizations:
- Right to Life
- National Rifle Association
- Fraternal Order of Police
- Farm Bureau
- Member, NFIB – National Federation of Independent Business
- Member, SBAM – Small Business Association of Michigan
- Member, 2010 Boy Scouts of America Regional Committee
- Member, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
- Member, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
- Michigan Flywheelers
- Rotary, Paul Harris Fellow
- Paw Paw Optimist Club
- Friends of the Library
- Van Buren County Community Corrections Advisory Board
- Kalamazoo Nature Center
- Kalamazoo Ducks Unlimited
- Southwest Michigan Gun Club
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Mattawan Alumni Association
- Kalamazoo Republican Party
- Van Buren Republican Party
- Past member, State Board of Medicine
- Past member, Intercare Community Health Network
- Past member, Van Buren County Community Mental Health Board of Directors
- Past Vice Chair, State Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons