Pillow Talk – Advocacy Tips

by Perry Pillow, AATC

Political advocacy is not a passive pursuit.  Passive-aggressive might work in office politics but this approach fails in the political arena. AATC’s advocacy efforts depend on our members’ active participation.

Joining an AATC Advocacy Team is a great way to be personally engaged in AATC’s government relations efforts. AATC’s newly adopted strategic plan calls for renewing our Advocacy Team (AT) efforts.  Advocacy Teams represent AATC on the frontlines. They are AATC’s eyes and ears, feet and mouths at the local government level.

To help you be an effective Advocacy Team member, each month this year, this column will provide a lobbying tool.  The goal is to provide you with ten timely tips that will give you the confidence you need to take on a municipal advocacy effort.

Tip # 1:  Know Your Stuff

There’s an adage that says never go to a gunfight with a knife! Nothing is more embarrassing than being in a meeting and getting blindside because you did not have the information you needed.

Not to worry! As AATC’s Director of Government Affairs, my number job is to equip you to succeed!

Before you attend city council meetings or meet with an elected official, AATC will give you the policy and political information you need including a brief summary of the issues and how they impact the multifamily housing industry.  AATC staff will also provide you with data on elected officials so you can navigate the political landscape.  You’ll know who AATC’s friends are and, more importantly, who and what influences each elected official.

Your job is to familiarize yourself with the issues and political background information provided.  The more you know, the better you’ll do.

Your goal is to put a human face to an issue.  The most effective lobbyist is a constituent–someone who lives in an elective representative’s district—who is personally impacted by a government action.  Personal votes and anecdotes are more powerful than any professional lobbyist.

Invest the time it takes to learn both sides of an issue.  Have slick one-page infographic is not enough.  Many times, elected officials have professional government staffers that are assigned to our issues.  But remember, you are an expert on multifamily housing.  No one know more about our industry than you do.

Do your homework. Be prepared. Know your stuff.

2020 NAA ADVOCATE – This month, AATC leaders Nicolle Block, Candy Maxey, Jackie Cagle, Jason Busboom, Sherry Jordan, Michael Payne, Jeff Duerstock, and Patty Utley along with AATC staff members John Mitchell and Perry Pillow will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in NAA’s Advocate Conference.  AATC leaders will ensure that our industry’s views are heard above the noise and chaos that engulfs hyper-partisan Washington.  On your behalf, this group will meet with Tarrant County’s congressional delegation and be aggressively advocating for changes in federal laws and regulations that impact your business including reforming the HUD Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program; investing in the nation’s infrastructure, and removing barriers to new-multifamily construction.

ADVOCACY TEAMS – Our Advocacy Teams are hard at work on your behalf in cities throughout Tarrant County. Advocacy team members meet and vet candidates for public office.  This personal engagement enhances AATC’s GAC & PAC trustees’ candidate evaluation process.  Advocacy teams host property tours, attend city council meetings, and engage in local issues that affect our industry. If you live, own, or operate properties in Arlington, Bedford, Burleson, Euless, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Haltom City, Hurst, Mansfield, North Richland Hills, our Advocacy Teams need you. If you know elected or government officials, our Advocacy Teams need you.  If you would like to be on an advocacy team, contact Perry Pillow at ppillow@aatcnet.org or (817) 616-0354.

AATC & NAA PAC ENDORSEMENTS – AATC and NAA are strongly supporting Tarrant County congressional incumbents Kay Granger (R – TX 12), Marc Veasey (D – TX33 and Ron Wright (R -TX 6), as well as, Republican Beth Van Duyne (R- TX24). In local primaries, AATC is supporting Democrat Tarrant County Precinct 8 Constable Michael Campbell.

2020 MAY 2nd MUNICIPAL ELECTION CANDIDATES – The filing period for DFW mayor and city council races ended February 14th. Contests to watch include the open district 2 and district 6 Arlington City Council seats. Long-serving Arlington council members Sheri Capehart and Robert Shepard are being term-limited out. Potential candidates include Mansfield ISD board member Raul Gonzales in district 2 and Arlington ISD board member John Hibbs in district 6.   AATC staff has met with Gonzales and Hibbs and the AATC PAC Trustees approved $6,000 in AATC PAC contributions including Arlington City Councilmember At-Large Victoria Myers – $3,500; and Arlington City Councilmember District 1 Helen Moise – $2,500. Myers has been an extremely good friend to AATC, and she enjoys participating in our Lyceum Program. She chairs the Tarrant County Continuum of Care that provides all homeless services in Tarrant County. Moise has her CPM and has been a very good friend to AATC. She has served on the IREM board. Campbell has been an outstanding constable in Southeast Fort Worth.  AATC’s Government Affairs Committee will meet March 20th to make additional AATC PAC contribution recommendations

Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at ppillow@aatcnet.org or call 817-616-0354.