A Message from President Mike Theo: Let the Renaissance of Issues Begin


 Mike Theo  |    November 10, 2016
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When you read this, the insufferable election of 2016 has ended. Thank goodness. As we recuperate, it’s therapeutic and necessary to put our increasingly odious political elections into perspective. 

Political campaigns, at all levels of government, are but a means to an end. Don’t get me wrong, elections are wildly important, but not in and of themselves. They’re important because the individuals who get elected are the individuals who will be voting on legislation and regulations that will directly and indirectly impact you, your family, your business and your community. It’s hard to keep this in mind as we watch campaigns that stray far from discussions of policies and deep into character vilification. This is especially true this year, as voters seemed more motivated by who they were voting against than who they were voting for. 

In this turbo-charged political environment, I’m not surprised when some REALTORS® voice their desire that the WRA just steer clear of campaigns and elections altogether and concentrate instead on lobbying for good laws and against bad laws once whoever is elected takes office. I understand the frustration, but — for better or worse — it ignores the human and political reality. Simply put, which laws pass or fail depends on which candidates win or lose. 

This is why we invest significant human and financial capital into elections. That is why we raise funds for candidates through the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) and the Direct Giver program. That’s why we invest in issues ads through the Wisconsin Homeowners Alliance. That’s why we interview candidates in open seats. That’s why we research and report how incumbents voted on key REALTOR® and property owner issues. And that’s why we endorse some candidates and oppose others. Each of these efforts involved dedicated members who committed their time, perspectives and financial resources to help elect those candidates that support our issues. In all, we supported one candidate for the U.S. Senate, eight candidates for Congress, 16 state Senate candidates, and 98 state Assembly candidates — from both parties and from every corner of the state. For those who get elected, some will be happy with us and some won’t, but they’ll all know our issues and our willingness to work with them.

Historically, how we engage in political campaigns and on what basis has served us well, regardless of which party is in control of the White House, Congress, the state legislature or the governor’s office. This engagement has allowed us to pursue aggressive legislative agendas and pass important laws and regulations — many of which on a bipartisan basis — over the past 30-plus years. 

While campaigns may never end, elections end on a date certain, and regardless of the outcome of this election, the hard task of governing now begins. The WRA will now turn our attention to advocating issues important to you and to property owners across the state. Our agenda calls for initiatives that will make homeownership and property ownership more affordable, such as the creation of homeownership savings accounts, lower property taxes, and government audits of regulations that hurt housing affordability. We will promote investments in necessary economic infrastructure like transportation, broadband access, K-12 funding and improvements to tax incremental financing laws. We will seek to preserve our environmental and water resources through revising high capacity well rules and controlling phosphorous runoff into navigable waters. We will work to protect private property rights by ensuring homeowners’ right to rent and changes to our eminent domain laws. We will seek ways to reduce frivolous lawsuits against REALTORS® and remove hurdles to successful real estate transactions by addressing pre-agency, advertising, home inspections, appraisals, rental weatherization and title issues. And as the newly elected legislature begins to consider these and other important issues, we will be asking you to directly advocate on behalf of REALTORS® and property owners by responding to Calls to Action and face-to-face meetings with your elected officials.

I hope throughout this protracted election season, you had a chance to watch our RPAC video series that we emailed to all members, which highlighted the link between our political campaign involvement and our successful legislative initiatives. With those elections now over, it’s time to make that switch from politics to policies. Let the renaissance of issues begin.

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