REALTORS® could be pleasantly surprised by the positive impacts they can have on their communities and their businesses through elected offices, association liaisons to government officials, local association committees and volunteering.
That was the overarching message from Monday’s panel discussion, “Getting Politically Involved,” sponsored by Illinois REALTORS® Young Professionals Network (YPN).
Illinois Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs told REALTORS® that one of their greatest strengths — the ability to work well with people — has been one of the key ingredients in his success. When seeking improvements to the state’s college savings programs, for example, he worked with the fund manager and representatives of other states’ programs to form a 10-state consortium and reduce fees for participants in the programs. Listening to what others had to say was more important than what he had to say.
“The good Lord gave us each one mouth and two ears,” said Frerichs, “and we need to use both of them in that proportion.”
In addition to Frerichs, five REALTORS® answered questions from moderator and YPN Chair Jayme Ahlden, of RE/MAX Realty Associates in Champaign. Questions ranged from how they got started in politics and public service to how their work affects their business.
Steve Myers, president and managing broker for Myers Commercial Real Estate, Inc., of Springfield spoke about his experience as the Illinois REALTORS® State Legislative Contact for state Rep. Tim Butler of the 87th District. He has many years of committee service to Illinois REALTORS® and as a leader for his local association, Capital Area REALTORS®.
Max McComb, broker for RE/MAX Realty Associates in Champaign, noted that REALTORS® those who serve on school boards will discover the hours are long without any financial compensation. He is in his fourth term as an elected member of the Mahomet-Seymour Schools Board and is the current president. He is president of the Champaign County Association of REALTORS® and has served on numerous committees on the local and state levels.
Joe Kenny, broker for Realty Executives Midwest of Darien, shared stories about serving at Darien Ward Three Alderman. He’s been active on numerous state association committees, including chair of the State Legislative Contacts Working Group in 2016. He is the State Legislative Contact for state Sen. John Curran of the 41st District.
Seth Goodman, broker-owner of ME Realty in Lincoln and was named to REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30 list in 2012. He’s a former president of Main Street Lincoln program, serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement and teaches JA classes. In 2017, he won the Republican primary for mayor and became the youngest mayor in city history.
Matt Difanis, co-owner of RE/MAX Realty Associates, with offices in Champaign, Mahomet and Monticello, credits his political acumen to having a parent in politics and to serving for years in leadership positions on the local association level. In addition to serving as president of Illinois REALTORS® and on many committees on the state level, he’s the State Legislative Contact to Sen. Scott Bennett of the 52nd District.