PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Our Power is at the Ballot Box

Barry Kramer | September 2018

Now that the primaries are over, focus will shift to the general elections. If you are a Realtor and did not vote, or are not registered to vote, you still have time to vote in the General Election to be held on Nov. 6. Every Realtor should vote! We are pillars of our communities and elections affect policy decisions that impact each and every one of us.

As many of you know, I grew up in Waterbury, CT. From early on, politics was part of my upbringing. My father served as Finance Commissioner for the city, and was so well thought of that he served under several mayors, regardless of party affiliation. The first election that I participated in was in 1972, even though I was not quite old enough to vote. I remember driving voters to their polling places in my mother’s brand new 1972 Toyota. She wasn’t crazy about the idea, but agreed that as long as it was in the interest of civic duty she’d allow it. I was able to vote the following year, and have never missed an election since.

The National Association of Realtors has been active this year to increase our influence on an uncertain legislative agenda, and has worked hard on advocacy and outreach. NAR’s political strength comes from its members. Even so, out of 1.3 million Realtors, approximately 15%, or 195,000, are not registered to vote. In New York State, out of nearly 60,000 Realtors, over 17%, or 10,123, are not registered to vote. In 2016, more than 30% of New York Realtors did not vote!

There are important issues that affect us on a national, state and local level. Nationally we have advocated for tax reform, extending the National Flood Insurance Program and other issues. On the state level, we are urging candidates to support the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Program and the Transparency and Disclosure in Cooperative Bill. We have been advocating for changes to the Mansion Tax and for a permanent Property Tax Cap. There are county and local issues as well, ranging from mandates on cease and desist zones to vigilance against local transfer taxes.

This is an important election. Some 470 seats in the U.S. Congress are up, including 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats. There are 298 State Executive seats up in 43 states, including New York Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. There are dozens of county and local elections in our Hudson Valley region.

I urge all HGAR members to get out and vote. To vote, you must be 18 years of age by the date of the election, be a U.S. citizen and live at your present address at least 30 days before the election. There are a few other requirements, and for a full description you can visit your County Board of Elections website or go to www.elections.ny.gov. You must register at least 25 days before the election you want to vote in. You can also contact 1-800-FOR-VOTE.

National Voter Registration Day is September 25th, providing an excellent opportunity to register and make our voices heard. NAR states that “the work we do as Realtors, and as an organization, is noble, good and lasting. Voting is an opportunity to exemplify and solidify this point.”

I urge you all to make a commitment to vote on Nov. 6. See you at the polls!

Barry Kramer
Barry Kramer is 2018 President of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc