A Message from President Mike Theo: Recipe for Success

 Mike Theo  |    August 09, 2016

You may have read lately about a host of new real estate-related laws that passed in the two-year legislative session that ended earlier this spring. During my 30 years with the WRA, I haven’t seen anything like it — kind of. It was unique in the sheer number of initiatives that passed — some 49 different initiatives. And it was unique in the breadth of issues covered — property rights, land use, property taxes, landlord-tenant rules, local government regulatory authority and more. However, it was not unique in the sense that the WRA has always enjoyed a high level of legislative success, regardless of which political party controls one or both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature or the governor’s office.

That’s quite a track record. But it didn’t happen by luck. Rather, this record of success is the result of a well-orchestrated effort that includes every member of our association to one degree or the other. It is ongoing year-round and in every corner of the state. It is a “recipe for success” if you will, and it’s been a long time in the making. 

A recipe is a road map of sorts, to a satisfying meal. A recipe is also defined as a method to attain a desired end. Recipes combine the right ingredients, in the right proportion, at the right time, to reach the desired result. For our legislative efforts, the desired result is simple: pass good laws and defeat bad laws. The recipe to achieve this goal calls for the right combination of candidates, funding, building relationships, accurate data, professional staff and member engagement.

Over the years, the WRA has wisely invested human and financial resources in each of these areas. The ingredients for this successful recipe include:

One helping of good candidates: The WRA staff has completed a thorough review of incumbent state lawmakers and created a detailed voting record on their support for property owners and REALTOR® issues. For open legislative seats where there is no incumbent, WRA staff and volunteer members throughout the state interview candidates of both parties to determine those worthy of support based on real estate issues.

  • Add a dash of leadership: Recommendations based on candidates’ voting records and local interviews are reviewed by the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) trustees, the WRA executive committee and ultimately the WRA board of directors.
  • Add a generous portion of support: Candidates supported by the WRA receive financial contributions through RPAC and through individual member contributions via the REALTORS® Direct Giver Conduit Program. 
  • A heaping dose of grassroots organizing: Educate members and the general public about why the candidate we’ve endorsed is the best choice, and mobilize members through Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts. In some races, include selective independent expenditures on behalf of candidates we support.
  • Mix in thoughtful public policies: After the elections, create a proactive legislative agenda created by the WRA public policy committee and board of directors that preserves private property rights, promotes affordable housing, and protects homeowners, property owners and REALTORS®. Bake in the lawmaking process for two years. 
  • Bring engagement to a boil: As pending legislation and rules simmer in the legislative process, engage members to contact their elected officials by responding to Calls to Action and conducing in-district meetings with legislators. The recipe calls for hundreds of REALTORS® to attend REALTOR® & Government Day in Madison to give lawmakers a taste of the issues that are locally sourced. For additional flavor, add some grassroots issue advocacy through the Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance. 
  • Taste test: After legislation has passed and is signed into law, continue to monitor how the laws are being applied and where necessary, engage in legal actions to ensure laws are being applied as intended. Engage members through the WRA Legal Hotline to make sure the legal recipes are fully understood.

Like any good recipe, success requires the right ingredients, precisely mixed, by dedicated cooks. This process has already begun for the elections of 2016 and the 2017-18 legislative session to follow. Between now and November, make sure you’re doing your part in creating our success. For this recipe, there can never be too many chefs in the kitchen!

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