Pillow Talk – Advocacy Tip #7 – Know Your Strategy
Last month, we explored AATC Advocacy Tip #6: Know How to Keep Score. In politics, like life, you win some, you lose some, but, more importantly, you must live to fight another day. This month’s tip takes our approach to advocacy to the next level: Know Your Strategy. Advocacy is not playing checkers; advocacy is playing chess—multi-layered, Star Wars—“let the Wookie win” type chess.
My all-time, absolute favorite movie is The Godfather. It is the greatest movie of all time—okay, it is not Dumb & Dumber—but The Godfather features an incredible cast, fantastic plot, an amazing script, and haunting cinematography. Beyond these superlatives, The Godfather delivers memorable dialogue after memorable dialogue: “make him an offer he can’t refuse,” “leave the gun, take the cannoli,” “sleep with the fishes,” and my favorite: “hold your friends close, your enemies closer.”
When it comes to advocacy, holding your enemies closer means knowing everything you can about their background, their motives, their tactics, their votes, their resume, their constituents, their contributors, their friends, etc. In the realm of politics, this information is called opposition research. In the multifamily owner/operator universe, we call this due diligence. Before you buy a property or take over the management of a property, you and your team learn everything humanly possible about the asset’s fiscal and physical condition. You walk the property. You drive the neighborhood. You shop the comps.
Too many real estate deals fail because owners/managers did not do thorough due diligence. A little extra effort on the front end prevents disaster later. Similarly, successful advocacy requires rigorous due diligence.
AATC, TAA, and NAA government relations staffs do extensive research on candidates and elect officials. Apartment Association staffs’ job is to equip association members with the knowledge you need to succeed.
You need to know that a state representative’s car was towed when she visited her daughter’s apartment. You need to understand that a city council member voted against an apartment development in another council member’s district because that other council member agreed to support building a new playground in their council district. You need to know that a congress member voted to extend the eviction moratorium because, as a child, his family used housing choice vouchers. You need to know that the mayor pro-tem is an accountant with an MBA in finance; therefore, she looks at all public policy issues through her efficiency lens, whether the government action is effective.
You need to know, within AATC’s jurisdiction, there are more than 210,000 rental units. Tarrant County has a population that exceeds 2 million, with Fort Worth (900,000) and Arlington (400,000) being the largest cities. The latest census data estimates that there are 700,000 renters in Tarrant County. More importantly, there are no established, sustained organizations or groups that advocate for renters’ rights or against our industry in Tarrant County. Instead, our opposition is on a case-by-case basis from ad hoc citizen's organizations, single-family homeowner groups, and neighborhood associations. These HOA's oppose new multifamily developments: NIMBYism, CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), etc.
Most importantly, AATC advocacy efforts primarily focus on convincing conservative, pro-business, Republican, church-going folks that apartments are not the genesis of all evils in the world.
We keep our friends close, our enemies closer.
Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-616-0354. This article is a repost from AATC's Dimensions Magazine. View the full article here: http://dimensionsmag.org/pillow-talk-advocacy-tip-7-know-your-strategy/