One of the rights of citizenship in the United States is the right to petition the government, the right to share our opinion and our perspective with our elected and non-elected representatives. We do that individually and collectively, by organization, cause, or political party. It is something that your elected REALTOR® leadership does on an ongoing basis.
Over the past month we have had two national political conventions: one in Tampa for the Republicans and one in Charlotte for the Democrats. We had members of our lobbying team and our leadership team at each convention. It is an important opportunity to be seen and heard.
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The REALTORS®’ delegation to the Republican National Convention included President-Elect Gary Thomas, Treasurer Bill Armstrong and Vice President and Liaison to Committees Scott Louser, Senior Vice President Jerry Giovanello, Vice President Jamie Gregory and lobbyists Ken Wingert and Helen Devlin. In Tampa, we were able to persuade the party to reintroduce protection of the Mortgage Interest Deduction into the party platform.
Our official delegation at the Democratic National Convention included First Vice President Steve Brown, and First Vice President-nomine Chris Polychron. Jerry G. and Jamie G. also attended as well as lobbyist Kevin O; Donnell and me. What surprised me was the access to Senators and Congress people. We had direct conversation with many of our elected officials. It was ironic to be in Charlotte in the Shadow of Bank of America for the meeting. It was encouraging to hear both from former President Clinton, and President Obama, agree that the mortgage interest deduction needs to be protected.
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The housing industry is recovering, albeit very slowly. But tight credit continues to be a challenge, particularly in markets that are appreciating. So, it was encouraging to hear members of the White House staff reach out to us for advice on what to do next to help housing and real estate.
While lobbying may be a ‘bad’ word in some circles, it plays an important function for our organization and is a vital aspect in the legislative process. Lobbying brings perspective and information to the conversation.
In November, our country will speak and make a decision. No matter what the outcome is, we will continue our efforts to advocate for private property rights, consumers, and our members. It is the right thing to do.
Ron Phipps, 2012 Immediate Past President