By Ron Tabaczynski, Director of Government Affairs, BOMA/Chicago
Right now, Chicago is approaching an important election year in 2019.
Fortunately, BOMA/Chicago will be ready.
Through its political action committee (PAC), BOMA/Chicago supports political candidates who have demonstrated leadership and sound decision-making on issues affecting commercial real estate. It’s crucial for us to align with candidates who will further the success of our industry in Chicago.
We’re off to a great start, thanks to member contributions to our PAC. However, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal. We’re guided by our strategy to help get us there. It’s one that we stand firmly behind as it’s remained steadfast – and successful – over the years.
We want to be fully transparent to our members, so here is a look at our strategy and how we approach our PAC.
Focus on Locations
The idea that “all politics are local” certainly rings true at the City Council level. Tradition and practice put great emphasis on working with the ward aldermen. From a strategic standpoint, we want to put increased emphasis on building and maintaining our relationships with aldermen who represent wards where we have member buildings.
For example, when we are contacted by a member for a constituent-type concern – such as loading zones, streets, alleys, permits – we will be dealing one of these three aldermen. Therefore, it’s important to zero in on these specific wards in Chicago with our PAC efforts.
Commitment to Committees
There are several city council committees that should be BOMA/Chicago members’ collective radar. The most important of which is the Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards committee. This one is most likely to deliberate on issues most important to us. In fact, we often speak before this committee. Other priority committees are certainly of interest to us and our members, but to a slightly lesser degree.
As we are still several months away from candidacy filings for the February 2019 election, we can only speculate which aldermen will have contests – unless a challenger publicly declares.
At this point, there is no way for us to determine the significance of any opposition to those incumbent aldermen. Some aldermen have announced that they will not seek reelection, but others may wait until the filing deadline approached.
Once the candidacy of incumbents and challengers begin to solidify, we will evaluate each race on a case-by-case basis and determine their importance. We will base our analysis on the following criteria.
- Past support of BOMA/Chicago positions
- Likelihood of reelection, along with nature and circumstance of current race
- Committee chairmanships and membership
- Geographic importance
- Accessibility and willingness to discuss BOMA/Chicago positions
- Overall effectiveness and influence among colleagues
- The advantage/disadvantage of having a particular candidate win or lose
- Relationship to overall advocacy strategy
Working together with our partners and lobbyists, we rank races into high, medium, low, and opportunity levels of contributions.
Despite our best efforts to evaluate, politics can be unpredictable. Every election, there are always rumors that occasionally turn out to be true, while others remain unfounded. Some races are consistent, while others remain very fluid up until petition challenges are decided, which can be a few weeks before the election. Usually races will emerge that turn out to be surprises, while others that were expected to be very competitive contests fail to materialize. This is simply the nature of politics and the election cycle.
Throughout it all, our strategy remains consistent – even in non-election years. During those years, we concentrate on maintaining the relationships with the aldermen from key wards, as well as the key city council committee leadership and members.
From a timing standpoint, many campaigns kick off in September, so expect to start hearing from challengers in the coming weeks.
Importance of Political Advocacy
A strong political action committee (PAC) is essential to safeguard the success of the industry. PAC donations enable BOMA/Chicago to participate directly in the political process by supporting officials and candidates committed to advancing the interests of commercial real estate and our advocacy agenda. The BOMA/Chicago PAC was formed as a state PAC under Illinois law in 1997. It does not make contributions to Federal candidates. Federal candidates are supported through BOMA International’s BOMAPAC.
Whether it is to support state, county or city candidates, or federal candidates through BOMAPAC, we still need our members’ help to support our advocacy efforts. To make a contribution, click here to download and complete the contribution form or get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.