Illinois REALTORS® came together at the 2019 Capitol Conference to learn about each other’s issues and to voice their concerns to state lawmakers in Springfield Tuesday.

Hundreds of REALTORS® came to the event by car, truck, SUV or bus and gathered for lunch at the Bank of Springfield Center. Illinois REALTORS® president-elect Ed Neaves welcomed members, outlined the day and recognized Peoria-area REALTOR® Pat McCarthy as winner of the 2019 Political Involvement Award. Neaves recognized military veterans, their spouses and family members in the audience, then yielded the stage to state Rep. Tim Butler, who presented CEO Gary Clayton an Illinois Bicentennial flag that flew over the Capitol Building on the 200th anniversary of the state of Illinois.

Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Greg St. Aubin then revved up the members in attendance and reminded them how important their presence would be — even if they didn’t speak a word to legislators. The sheer number of REALTORS® walking around the state Capitol complex would demonstrate to legislators how unified and politically active REALTORS® are.

Following St. Aubin’s presentation, members took buses to the Capitol and the Stratton Building for meetings with specific lawmakers. In between meetings, numerous members shared their observations about Lobby Day.

12:53 pm – First-time attendees Patrick Varnum and Caitlin Navarro were excited to experience Capitol Conference. “There are many people here for the same cause. I’m just happy to add to that,” said Varnum. “I’m trying to listen as much as possible and take it all in,” said Navarro.

12:58 p.m. — While waiting to go through security to enter the State Capitol Building, first-time attendee REALTOR® Imani Khayyuh of Coldwell Banker Hyde Park said, “Capitol Conference has been absolutely awesome. I came this year because my managing broker said it was something I shouldn’t miss. I’m glad I came.”

1:07 p.m. — REALTOR® Kenya Robinson of KRGW Realty, LLC said: “Capitol Conference has been very empowering, enlightening and motivating. We’re concerned about high taxes in our communities and troublesome pre-sale inspections and building permit processes. And of course, we’re concerned about rent control.”

1:13 p.m. – Members of Capital Area REALTORS® met with new state Sen. Steve McClure, R-Jacksonville. McClure took office in 2019.

REALTORS® Kirsten Keller and Joe Cirafici wait outside the Capitol for their turn to enter.

1:23 p.m. — REALTOR® Kirsten Keller of @properties in Lisle came with a group of Mainstreet YPN Committee members and was hoping to meet Reps. Chris Welch and Amy Grant. REALTOR® Joe Cirafici of Cirafici Real Estate in Carol Stream said the conference was eye-opening because he learned something new even after 14 years of selling real estate. “I’ve never witnessed REALTORS® banding together like this before. I just thought we were all out there competing against each other for business. I’m definitely getting a different perspective.”

1:32 p.m. – Heartland REALTOR® Organization members spoke to state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Lake Zurich, about a bill that would expand liability for direct contractors. (See group photo at top of page.) REALTOR® John Reinert, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Starck Real Estate in Crystal Lake said it’s important for REALTORS® to come to Springfield to tell legislators in layman’s terms the negative impact of some bills.

1:46 p.m. — REALTOR® Tarin Noga of RE/MAX Plaza in Wauconda said, “So far it’s been good. It’s my first time attending Capitol Conference and people told me it could be overwhelming. But it hasn’t been that way. We just met with Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) and Sen. McConchie and they listened to what we said and addressed our issues. I definitely think that REALTORS® who have never been to Capitol Conference should experience it.”

REALTOR® Kourtney McGhee received special treatment as she waited outside Sen. Napoleon Harris’ office.

2:12 p.m. – REALTOR® and first-time attendee Kourtney McGhee stopped by the office of state Sen. Napoleon Harris, III, D-Harvey. The senator was in meetings, but his staff said McGhee could sit at his desk to take a photo. McGhee was ecstatic, “I’m so happy I can’t even contain myself. I feel like I just closed a deal!”

3:08 p.m. – The 2019 Illinois Leadership Development Class met with Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington. Brady spoke of REALTORS® advocacy efforts, “REALTORS® are one of the most politically respected groups.”