2017 Jean Leake Emerging Markets Service Scholarship Recipient—MY NAR REALTOR Legislative Meeting Experience
By Erin Wilson
The night before I left, I had planned to get up at 4 a.m. to make my 7:30 a.m. flight but found myself awake at 2 a.m. in anticipation of my first trip to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. I am Erin Wilson, Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS (MAAR) recipient of the 2017 Jean Leake Emerging Markets Service Scholarship.
After a quick flight to DC, we were off and running. We walked from our hotel to the convention location; it was a balmy 94 degrees. We were hot and tired but ready for mind expansion. The NAR 360 (the kick-off meeting for the convention) was energizing; it was great to see so many dedicated Realtors packed into the room and it was there I realized how important it is to stand in solidarity with other Realtors and have our voices heard. As Realtors, it is our duty to stand up for our clients and homeownership.
At the NAR 360, we listened to a presentation on the key issues that we, Realtors would focused on during the legislative meetings. There was a fun spoof where Kevin Sears, Vice President of Government Affairs, took to the streets of D.C. to question the average person on the acronyms that are common in our industry. One hilarious response to “what is FEMA” was a confident reply that it was “the bone connected to the other one in the arm.” This was an excellent reminder that sometimes people have no idea what we are talking about even though we use acronyms all the time. The MAAR/SPAAR reception followed at the beautiful Omni Shoreham Hotel. The networking was a great opportunity to meet and reconnect with other MAAR/SPAAR members and staff who were attending the legislative meetings.
The second day started at the crack of dawn. It was our busiest day in D.C. We met early in the morning for a tour of the White House. Congressman Erik Paulson met us and escorted us through security and into the White House. The White House tour was fascinating. I am forever grateful for what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was fun to see the house up close verses seeing it on TV.
After the White House tour, we zipped back to the Realtor conference to attend the NAR Diversity Committee meeting and then we were off to Capitol Hill. Our first visit was with one of Minneapolis’ local heroes, and my representative, Congressman Keith Ellison. Unfortunately, Keith was taking a vote on the floor, yet he stopped by to say hello. He left us in the very capable hands of his aide. We had a lively discussion about tax reform, the National Flood Insurance Program and the importance of protecting sustainable homeownership.
We met with Congressman Rick Nolan. Rick was very receptive and told several stories about his time in Washington and the fight to save his seat and the current political atmosphere in Washington D.C. I was surprised by how receptive and interested he was about Realtor issues.
While on Capitol Hill, we met with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. They took the time to listen to our unified message and Amy also had questions for us, including our thoughts on Fannie Mae. At these meetings, I was proud to be a Realtor. Amy was impressed with the large group of 98 Realtors, who were all nestled in the conference room, unified with our message to preserve and protect homeownership and private property rights.
The remainder of my trip was spent at the Realtor conference and attending scheduled meetings on various topics. Donnie Brown, MAAR VP of Community Affairs and Foundation kept us moving, engaged and participating the entire week. There was never a dull moment. One of my many takeaways from this experience is that I will be talking to other Realtors who work hard with clients from emerging markets to apply for this scholarship. The end of the trip turned out to be a beginning for me and my involvement at MAAR. I am very excited to join the MAAR Diversity Committee and keep the momentum going.