Should a local Realtor association have a Government Affairs Director (GAD)? First of all, what is a GAD and what has RBAR’s experience been so far with our own GAD? A government affairs director is someone hired by a local Realtor association to coordinate its efforts with regards to legislative issues, meaningful elections, Political Action Committee fundraising and campaign contributions.
Back in 2007, RBAR updated its strategic plan, and one of the things that came from that was to take steps to be more politically active in the community and explore the possibility of having a GAD on our own. The leaders of our association at the time felt that it was a good idea and that we could fit the associated costs into the budget. For RBAR the rest is history. We hired Chuck Liedike and never looked back.
Some of the reasons a Realtor association might want to have its own GAD are: to get help to coordinate the legislative committee’s focus and efforts, to help coordinate our local RPAC committee’s focus and help with fundraising, to keep us informed of legislative items that mean a lot to agents and our surrounding communities, to form partnerships with local cities, counties and municipalities to get our voices heard above the crowd, and to keep us informed and connected with what is happening at the state and federal levels of our association.
Let’s face it: we are being bombarded from all angles with municipalities that are requiring more and more things from us as Realtors to navigate our buyers and sellers through. These issues are not always the best thing for the homeowner. With the help of our GAD we are able to pressure West Reading to change the way it was handling its residential inspections. We were able to stop the sprinkler ordinance from being enacted. We were able to, and continue to, let the city know that raising the Realty Transfer Tax would be devastating to our already tepid real estate market. These are just a few of the items for which we have been fighting over the last few years. Bear in mind that these items are not selfishly motivated. Our GAD and our committees have made these items a priority based on what they feel is best for everyone. Also, the issues that the GAD are the committees tackle are non-partisan. We all have our leanings but the GAD provides guidance towards outcomes that are best for you, the membership and the public, and not which party it may benefit.
NAR and PAR have a very clear idea on whether or not we as agents should be politically active. The answer is a resounding yes! If you attend the PAR business meetings in Harrisburg and the Realtor Party Convention in Washington DC, you will get a very clean understanding of how politically active our parent organization are concerning politics, political fundraising and monitoring ongoing legislation. The amount of legislation that is currently being watched is amazing. Some of it will not go anywhere, but a GAD can help you keep your finger on the pulse and help us to take action when necessary.
Based on our mission statement of encouraging homeownership and private property rights, it makes sense that being at the forefront of the ever-changing political area and non-stop pressure from governments, both local and beyond, is a prime objective. Without a GAD this would fall to us as individuals/volunteers to manage and disseminate. We’re all supposed to be out there helping people buy and sell homes. Having a GAD, in my opinion, makes very good sense. It we can afford the cost of the salary, etc., there are far more reasons to have one than not. Did you know that we get assistance to offset the cost of having a GAD from PAR and TREND?
The work that Chuck Liedike has done for us is invaluable and represents money well spent. Many local associations throughout Pennsylvania simply do not have the ability to hire their own GAD. I consider RBAR to be fortunate to be in this position. PAR considers this effort to the vitally important. To indicate this importance, PAR just started a pilot program to assist the many associations to be more active in the political and legislative arenas.
Having a dedicated Government Affairs Director benefits the agents and the property owners alike, and that, after all is a large part of our mission.