Pillow Talk – Advocacy Tip #3 – Due Diligence: Know Your Elected Officials

Opposition research, the dark arts of politics, seeks to learn anything and everything about a candidate’s political opponents. Often associated with dirt-digging, closeted skeleton reanimations, and gutter dwelling, mudslinging, this seamier aspect of realpolitik deters many good people from seeking elected office. The shadows, curses, hexes, jinxes, charms, and creatures of political warfare rarely rise to Hogwarts level, and the truth is the best defense against political rumors and tabloid innuendos.

Not all political research is bad. In fact, the more you know about an elected official, the more effective your advocacy will be. Think of this activity as advocacy due diligence. You wouldn’t acquire an asset, hire an employee, or sign a lease with a resident without doing a thorough background check and analyses. Gathering knowledge is part of every multihousing owner’s/operator’s repertoire.

Due diligence on elected officials means knowing as much as possible about their:  1) likes and dislike; 2) education and professional background; 3) previous government experience; 4) community involvement; 5) family and socio-economic status; 6) their constituent’s demographics and district boundaries, and 7) voting records; 8) friends and influencers; 9) opponents and enemies; and, most importantly, 10) the results of the most recent election.

This list is not exclusive nor exhaustive, but it a great place to start. Knowledge is power, but knowledge also affords you the opportunity to connect with an elected official in a meaningful way.

For instance, it is good to know that Congressman Marc Veasey (D – TX 33) grew up in affordable housing in west Fort Worth and often moved as a child. It is good to know that Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price went to the same high school as Congressman Roger Williams (R 0 TX25) and former Congressman Pete Geren. It is great to know that Arlington City Councilmember Helen Moise has her CPM and that her daughter works in our industry. It is even better to know that state representatives Stephanie Klick (R- HD91) and Craig Goldman (R- HD97) are AATC members.

AATC, TAA, and NAA government relations staff will provide you background on elected officials and their staff prior to meeting with them. Invest whatever time it takes before your meetings to learn this information and do your research.

Your goal is to find a connection point–something or someone that personally connects you to that elected officials. Perhaps you attend the same church, your kids play in the same soccer league, or you have a mutual friend. When that government official sees your face, you want them to call you by your first name and ask you about that mutual connection.

Impactful advocacy occurs when you have a conversation as friends. Knowledge builds that partnership bond. Life is about who you know; effective advocacy is about what you know about who you know.

COVID-19 – Local, state, and federal governments have been in the forefront of battling the COVID-19 crisis. From shelter-in-place orders, a statewide eviction ban, and the federal stimulus package, AATC, TAA, and NAA government relations teams are proactively engaged with government officials to ensure that our residents and employees are safe.

Our properties are open, our assets are maintained, and our financial obligations are met. Our advocacy success during the COVID-19 crisis is based mostly on the sustained efforts of our members and professional government relations staff to build strong partnerships with elected officials and government staffs. We are reaping the benefits of the hard work put in by AATC members over the years to foster professional relationships with government officials. Crises do not build character; crises reveal character. Thanks so much to AATC’s leadership, owner/operators, and our supplier partners for all your hard work to ensure our employees, residents, and businesses thrive through this challenging time. If you have any questions or concerns about our industry’s COVID-19 response go to www.aatcnet.org

2020 CENSUS – On April 1, your residents and employees received their 2020 Census information. Encourage your employees and residents to fill-out this form and return them. All of us count! Every ten years, the United States conducts the constitutionally mandated census. Population determines congressional representation in Washington – more representative equals the more influence Texas will have. The population also drives federal grants and expenditures. Making sure everyone is we count is extremely important.

Consider this: six of the 10 U.S. counties with the largest population gains this decade were in Texas according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 1, 2019, population estimates released last month. Among the nation’s counties, the top 10 with the largest numeric gains since 2010 are all located in the South and the West. Tarrant County ranked No. 5 in growth over the decade, expanding from 1,810,664 residents on April 1, 2010, to 2,102,515 on July 1, 2019. Those numbers represent an increase of 291,851 residents over the decade. Among metropolitan areas, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington had the most significant numeric gain since 2010, with an increase of 1,206,599 (19%).

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.

2020 MAY 2 MUNICIPAL ELECTION MOVED – Due to COVID-19, numerous Tarrant County cities (including Arlington) are moving their May 2 municipal elections to November 3. Mayors and council members impacted by this move will serve until November.

Municipal candidates’ names will appear at the bottom of the November ballot. This move will most likely diminish the vote for local government candidates and potentially inject partisanship into non-partisan municipal elections. Local candidates will struggle to get their names and issues heard in a presidential election.

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