Mar 25
Recently AASEW president Joe Dahl created a small firestorm over an invite he sent to a number of property owners, some AASEW members, some not; for a private fundraiser he is hosting for a candidate for the recently vacated 15th Aldermanic District seat, formerly held by Willie Hines.

If you haven’t followed the race here is a Journal overview.  Election 2014 – Five to face off in aldermanic primary to replace Willie Hines

Some members I’ve heard from felt the AASEW has become too politically involved in general, others felt that the candidate Joe is supporting is bad for our industry and still others felt everyone running in the 15th  are liberals and therefore bad for our industry and we should support no one.

Is this fundraiser an AASEW event?  Unequivocally no.  This is Joe’s private fundraiser, not an AASEW sponsored event. Neither AASEW funds nor staff time was used in any part for this fundraiser.  Go if you wish, stay home if you wish, support someone else if you wish or support no one.   The AASEW has a PAC fund that could legally support a candidate, but that is not being used here nor did Joe ask that the PAC become involved in this race.

Is the candidate Joe is supporting a liberal?  Most likely (I do not know nor have met the guy.) If you believe there is a conservative leaning, pro housing aldermanic candidate living near 27th and North you probably also believe in the Easter Bunny.  Pro housing?  In an area that 70-85% of the residents live in rental housing, if you do not support and accept rental housing you cannot say you are pro housing.

Let’s face it, whoever is elected to the seat will be more politically liberal than most of our members.

Does that mean we should have no interest in the race?  Absolutely not.  Some candidates will be less harmful to housing and us than others.  I found the former Alderman from that district, Willie Hines, to be a thoughtful and fair person in some pretty heated legislative debates. While his general views were quite different than mine, he gave us a seat at the table and let our concerns be voiced.  This generally resulted in less intrusive legislation and more effective than the original proposal notwithstanding some pretty strong opposition on the other side.  Our industry would be served best by another person like him.

Is Joe wrong to support this candidate?  I’m know some people with strong feelings either way will not move from their position. That is the way it should be.  Here is my view:

Again, no.  Just because Joe has taken on the arduous task of AASEW president doesn’t mean that he foregoes his rights to support whomever he wishes.   Ask Tristan, ask John Savage, ask Dave Domers, ask me, about how much effort being president took.

We have had board members and presidents who had leadership roles in the Republican party.  We have also had board members who were leaders in the Democratic party. Those of both political orientation represented the Association well.   My company, Affordable Rental Associates, LLC, has had Democratic State Representatives and a Democratic Senator as management clients.   What I learned from this is landlords are landlords and that typically supersedes any political affiliation.

Since becoming president Joe has had one private fundraiser for the Republican Senator who was instrumental in the passage of  ACT 76 and now this private fundraiser for a perhaps liberal candidate in a certainly liberal district.  I think that shows Joe’s efforts are focused towards the industry and not towards a political affiliation.

Joe knows this candidate personally as a former tenant of his.  Joe recently interviewed the candidate  and questioned him on issues that are important to our industry.  Joe believes the guy understands the challenges we face and how certain policies in the city suppress investment.  Joe is a smart, right minded guy.

If you feel that strongly that Joe’s personal political choices are wrong and more importantly wrong for the Association, vote him out of office in November. But I would caution you to find a suitable replacement first.

I see what Joe does for the Association on a closer level than most members.  I fully support him and truly consider Joe an effective and engaged president.  I have been on the board all but 2 of the past  25 years so I have a commitment to the group and would be one of the first to sound the bell if I thought we were headed in a bad direction..   To his credit Joe got us the Home Depot and Sherwin Williams discounts that I never achieve in my decade in the decade of being president.

Who should the Association support in this race?  No one.  We really can’t.  I would love to have the Association host a candidate forum to find out where all the entries in this crowded race stand, plus to give all the candidates an opportunity to learn about our challenges.

Should AASEW members be politically active? Absolutely.  Even if the candidate you support does not get elected your involvement has furthered the debate on our issues  and has shown all the candidates  insights into the challenges our industry faces on a regular basis.

We are one of the largest economic groups within the city.  In aggregate rental property owners in the City of Milwaukee alone spend nearly $100 million in repairs and improvements each year.  We support the City of Milwaukee with $226 million in property taxes, $26 million in special assessments and $32 million in sewer and water– each year!  We employee thousands directly or indirectly, many of whom probably would have a hard time finding stable work .  We are a significant positive force in the local economy.

Yet, despite all of our contributions, we are beaten like a redheaded stepchild by the city of  Milwaukee.

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