Local races are pretty critical to our business. Our local governments decide our tax rates, steer our schools, and create zoning rules. They make important and long-lasting decisions about transportation and utilities that directly impact all of us. That’s why we’re so involved in getting to know our candidates and endorsing those whom we think are best for property owners and Realtors.
We begin with candidate interviews whenever possible. Whether we’re looking at a local council race or a state office, candidate interviews are the best way for us to make informed decisions about candidates. The screening panel is committed to being non-partisan and focused on the issues. The six to ten panel members are Realtors who have served in leadership roles within Government Affairs or TREPAC. All candidates are invited to participate, though not all will choose to do so. Candidate interviews are ideally held on a single day so all participants can meet all candidates.
Often, we will support a “friendly incumbent” over a new candidate. A friendly incumbent is a current official who has been supportive of TAR policy issues and open to the lobby team. Typically the local association will support that official. We want to be clear to challengers of friendly incumbents that about our friendly incumbent philosophy.
When seats are open or when there is no existing relationship with the candidate and no voting record to go by, determining the candidate’s position on important issues may be a bit more difficult. In those cases, we look for agreement with TAR positions, and ask about the candidates’ campaign infrastructure and funding. We want to know if they are able to win the election. We might also ask why the candidate is running and if there’s any chance the race will turn contentious? If so, how will those issues be addressed?
We won’t necessarily endorse a candidate in every race. Sometimes the panel may end up favoring several candidates or the panel is divided equally over two previously friendly candidates. Staying out of a race is always an option.
Once we have found our slate of candidates and our board of directors has approved them, we send our recommendations and the candidates’ questionnaire answers to the TREPAC trustees and the Political Involvement Council for final approval. The TAR Executive Board gets a slate of candidates, usually identical to the TREPAC support list, and votes to endorse. TREPAC trustees approve financial support for candidates, but only the Texas Association of REALTORS® Executive Board may endorse a candidate.
And that’s basically how it all works. We’d love to have you get involved. Join the Government Affairs Committee and help shape the path of the industry today, tomorrow, and in our next 100 years. Visit http://www.mymetrotex.com/index.php?q=about_us/committees/government-affairs to find out more.