Briefing Speakers

Governmental Affairs Advocates Briefing speakers include (from left) HAR Chief Political Strategist Dana Kervin, TAR Vice President of Governmental Affairs Mark Lehman, Political Strategist and Fundraiser Sue Walden, Houston Political Blogger Charles Kuffner and HAR Director and Governmental Affairs Advisory Group Chairman Mario Arriaga.

The Houston Association of REALTORS®’ (HAR’s) Governmental Affairs Department held its fourth annual Governmental Affairs Advocates Briefing on February 17 at Maggiano’s in Houston to enlighten members of HAR’s Political Affairs Advisory Group, Governmental Affairs Advisory Group, and the Bay Area, Fort Bend and Montgomery County Political Affairs Advisory Leadership. Volunteers desiring to be more involved in HAR’s political process were updated on REALTOR® issues at the national, state, and local levels of government. HAR Chief Political Strategist Dana Kervin welcomed the cadre of volunteers and facilitated the meeting.

Beginning with the local level of government, Charles Kuffner, founder of Texas’ oldest progressive blog, OffTheKuff, kicked off the briefing. Kuffner spoke about a variety of local issues covered in his blog: the 2011 Houston City Council and mayoral elections, redistricting, the 2010 Census, and his interviews with various candidates for elective office.

Political fundraiser and strategist Sue Walden of Walden & Associates spoke on the topic of personal interaction in campaigns and fundraising. In other words, a “how-to” for developing a relationship with the candidate or elected official and connecting with the person to deliver your message about your issue, product or service. Walden had conducted her research on RPAC and TREPAC fundraising. She acknowledged the effectiveness of the state and federal REALTOR® PACs.

Jason Fuller and Dana Kervin

Jason Fuller, Regional Director for United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, showcases the cake he received in celebration of his birthday, which fell on the day of the Advocates Briefing. The surprise birthday cake was presented to him by Dana Kervin and the Governmental Affairs volunteers serenaded him with “Happy Birthday” before Jason gave his presentation to the group

Jason Fuller, Regional Director for U. S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, spoke about interacting with staff members and how to effectively deliver your message. Remember, the thank-you note your mother or English teacher encouraged you to write? That’s really important and timeless!

At the federal level, NAR’s Brad Viator teleconferenced from his Washington, D. C. office to update the volunteers on H. Res. 25, to preserve and protect the Mortgage Interest Deduction; Government Sponsored Enterprise (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) reform; and extending and finding permanent financing for the National Flood Insurance Program. Members of Congress are being asked by their Federal Political Coordinators to co-sponsor H. Res. 25.

At the state level, TAR’s Mark Lehman traveled from Austin to provide an update on the 82nd Legislature and issues now referred to committees: eminent domain, homeowners associations, private transfer fees, TREC reform, tort reform and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Ed Wolff, former TREPAC Trustee and current TAR TREPAC Chair, discussed the importance of investing in yourself and your profession by making a contribution to the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee. In today’s political environment, REALTOR® participation is more important than ever.

At the local level, Mario Arriaga encouraged participation in the Tuesday, April 12, biennial legislative visits in Austin, participation in the NAR Broker Involvement Program to increase the Call for Action response rate, and the timeline for the May 14 and November 8 elections. TREPAC Trustee Billy Burt reinforced Mario’s message and encouraged everyone to participate in the April 12 REALTOR® Lobby Day.

Mario concluded the program with a thank you to the volunteers, many of whom traveled to participate in the briefing, and to the HAR Governmental Affairs Department.