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June Department Spotlight: Governmental Affairs

What the government does affects Texas real estate. The Governmental Affairs Department serves members of Texas REALTORS® by advocating for the best possible environment for consumers to buy, sell, and lease property.

 

The department stands up for Texas real estate by focusing on public policy, supporting candidates, grassroots advocacy, and issues mobilization.

 

“Governmental Affairs is about building and maintaining relationships to support and develop issues that foster sound public policy for property owners, creating an economy where REALTORS® can be successful,” says Tray Bates, Vice President of Governmental Affairs.  

 

You may be familiar with the department’s work during sessions of the Texas Legislature. The department is also highly involved in REALTOR® Day at the Texas Capitol. Governmental Affairs staff create talking points and offer training so members can successfully engage with representatives.

 

Team members analyze and track hundreds of bills and amendments and spend most days in the Texas Capitol, participating in hearings and working with legislators to make sure any laws that get passed support a healthy real estate economy and private property rights. “The association and the members are well respected within the Capitol,” says Seth Juergens, Associate Director of Public Policy. Legislators see how well organized, informed, and professional members are, and it makes a big impression, he says.

 

The Texas REALTORS® Political Action Committee, TREPAC, is the largest grassroots PAC in Texas. It fundraises, offers support to candidates of both parties who stand up for private property rights and homeownership, and raises awareness about related issues.

 

Governmental Affairs works on grassroots advocacy initiatives through the Texas REALTORS® Political Involvement Committee (PIC). Staff keep in touch with association members and local boards to learn which issues matter most to members. The PIC also works to recruit and interview candidates and drive voter turnout.

 

The Texas REALTORS® Issues PAC (TRIP) supports or opposes local issues that would have real estate implications. Members may reach out to their local association about something going on in their community. The local association will call a Texas REALTORS® field representative to get the process started.

 

Within Governmental Affairs, the Field Representatives Department serves as a liaison between the association and regions around the state. The team also helps identify and recruit volunteers, conduct grassroots efforts to promote legislation, educate local association staff, and connect members with association resources. 

 

The Governmental Affairs Department is close-knit. Several team members have been in their roles for years, while others have been in and around politics for many years.

 

Dahlia Brown, Director of Field Operations and Gulf Coast Field Representative, appreciates how collaborative the team is, noting it’s easy to work together and lend a hand when everyone is driven to serve the members.

 

Work in the Governmental Affairs Department is fast paced, says Brandon Alderete, Director of Political Affairs. “A piece of breaking news from the Texas Capitol can send you and your projects into an entirely new direction,” he says. 

 

Much of the department’s work happens outside of business hours, he notes. Staffers need to stay in constant communication with legislators and staff to know what’s going on. “During session, someone will hear something in a hallway, and I’ll get a text at 10:30 at night saying we have to change our messaging because there will be an amendment tomorrow,” Alderete says.

 

TREPAC Director Leslie Cantu enjoys being part of such a strong department. One team could not do the work by themselves; it takes the department's collective efforts to make a difference for the association members, the industry, and consumers. “My favorite part is the passion we have for the work we do as a department: helping people realize the American Dream,” she says. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

 

Here are some things you might not know about your politically engaged coworkers:

 

  • Brandon Alderete, Director of Political Affairs, says both of his grandmothers gave birth to daughters on their own birthdays.

  • Tray Bates, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, loves spending time with his family, being a fan, and watching his boys play sports.

  • Dahlia Brown, Director of Field Operations and Gulf Coast Field Representative, says her favorite birds are hummingbirds.

  • Veronica Canales, TREPAC Coordinator, loves traveling.

  • Leslie Cantu, TREPAC Director, did a dance routine on a television show in Hong Kong.

  • Zhelun Chen, TREPAC Manager, is currently learning how to be a home cook.

  • Triston Crossland, South Texas Field Representative, played college football at UTSA.

  • Rebecca Dupree, Governmental Affairs Department Coordinator, is a certified Level II Sommelier.

  • Andrea M. Friedman, Associate Director of TREPAC, is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and knew Texas would be different when she ordered a cheeseburger with chili and received a side of meat and beans instead of red or green chilis.

  • Seth Juergens, Associate Director of Public Policy, has worked in and around government for more than 15 years. 

  • Gregory Laudadio, East Texas Field Representative, grows an elaborate vegetable garden and loves to cook what he harvests.

  • Matthew Lipina, Central Texas Field Representative, grew up in Wisconsin and is a diehard Green Bay Packers fan.

  • Talecia Lott, TREPAC Staff Accountant II, was born with 11 fingers.

  • Josh McDaniel, North Texas Field Representative, just got married.

  • Julia Parenteau, Director of Public Policy, moved six times in nine months when she first moved to Austin.

  • Ashlee Quick, Political Affairs Specialist, is officially declared Lady Ashlee Katherine Quick of Sealand.

  • Michael Reeves, West Texas Field Representative, is a vegetarian who enjoys yoga, hockey, and heavy metal concerts.

  • Becky Smith, TREPAC Staff Accountant, is a twin, born on her mom's birthday.

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