We’ve all heard it before: If you don’t get out there and vote, then you have no reason to complain. But while the complaints seem to be growing louder, voter turnout is still on the decline. If you rank the world democracies according to their voting record, America is at the bottom. According to statistics, Texas voter turnout in gubernatorial elections averages only 28.4 percent. Despite high registration numbers, less than half of the registered Texas voters even cast their ballot for a presidential candidate.
Today, we offer all kinds of reasons for not voting. Some say they find it difficult to stay registered (moving means re-registering), despite the federal motor-voter bill that allows citizens to register to vote while renewing their driver’s license. Others claim voter apathy (my vote doesn’t really count), voter laziness (I can’t get there in time),and even more get turned off by the time commitment it takes to keep up with the issues. Whatever the reason, with such low voter turnout, your vote counts more than ever. And those candidates who win seats (with or without your help) will make decisions that will likely affect you or someone close to you in the near future.
Each election season, the Texas Association of Realtors endorses upwards of 150 candidates. These individuals are not chosen at random, nor are they picked based on party affiliation. Before choosing which candidate to endorse, Texas Realtors interview the candidates at the local and state levels to ensure their support of private-property rights and commitment to promoting policies that benefit Texas homeowners.
Working for you
The work of Texas Realtors goes a long way in electing candidates who will support or defeat crucial issues facing homeowners. Recent legislation passed by the state Legislature proves that having elected officials who preserve your property rights and understand issues important to homeowners benefits Texans and our economy.
For example, Texas Realtors supported a bill that requires taxing entities (other than school districts) to hold two public hearings, ensuring taxpayers’ voices are heard and elected officials are held accountable. The truth-in-taxation law took effect June 18, 2005.
In an August 2005 special session of the 79 th Texas Legislature, lawmakers unanimously approved SB 7, which the Texas Association of REALTORS® supported, guaranteeing private-property owners state-level protection from eminent domain for private profit. You probably remember the case. In Kelo vs. the City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was OK to take a person’s private property and replace it with anything that brings in higher tax revenues. Here in Texas, the homestead is a sacred thing. Texas lawmakers reaffirmed that with the emergency legislation they passed last year.
Additionally, on April 17, 2006, thousands of Texas Realtors from across the state converged on the south lawn of the Capitol to voice their support for lower property taxes. Lawmakers heard the call loud and clear. Texans need property relief, and we need it now. The Texas REALTORS® property tax reduction rally created a wave of support, and that momentum helped pass historic reductions in Texas property taxes. The comprehensive tax-reform package rewards teachers and provides a record 33 percent property tax reduction that will make homeownership more affordable for millions of Texans. That’s definitely cause for celebration, and an excellent example of how important it is to elect candidates who understand the key role homeownership plays in the Texas economy.
The fight continues
Although Texas Realtors have fought hard to push for legislation that benefits homeowners, there is much work to be done. The next legislative session may prove to be a contentious one, with issues such as property appraisal reform, and transportation and mobility. As a homeowner or someone looking to buy, it’s important that you get out there and exercise your right to vote. The candidates who are elected on Nov. 7 will make decisions that will likely have an impact on you. Make sure you choose someone who will serve your interests as a property owner.
While many people know that Texas Realtors help consumers buy and sell homes, many don’t know that we are staunch defenders of private-property rights and support legislative changes that positively affect Texas homeowners. For more information on voting and the candidates endorsed by Texas Realtors, I invite you to visit TexasRealEstate.com.
You can find the full text of the Realtor Code of Ethics on www.TexasRealEstate.com.