Meet Realtors® Running for Office in Pennsylvania

By Kelly Leighton | Nov. 1, 2019 | 6 min. read

You know the importance of heading to the polls and voting for candidates who support the Realtor® Party, protecting private property rights and advocating for policies that support it. Local Realtor® associations across Pennsylvania are supporting many Realtor® candidates running for county and municipal positions. Today, meet some of those Realtors® who are running for office. And remember to get out and vote.

Julie Wheeler, a candidate for York Country commissioner, said her experience as a Realtor® has helped her see what in the community needs changing.

“Serving the community is important to me. This endeavor represents a new type of service, but it’s grounded in my commitment to make York County a great place to live, work and raise a family. I have been blessed with a multitude of life experiences with friends, family and colleagues who have taught me so much. I will put that experience to work for York County,” said Wheeler.

“Whether it’s buying or selling a residential home or commercial property, as a Realtor®, I see firsthand how burdensome taxes and over-regulations impact the industry. Homeownership is an integral part of growing our local economy and driving long-term economic sustainability. It’s vital to the overall economic and social well-being of our community. As a commissioner, I will identify and implement initiatives that not only help first-time homebuyers, but also help our older adults. We need to ensure we are creating an environment that fosters sustainability across the generations, as well as drive process efficiencies that streamline our permitting processes,” added Wheeler.

Running for Phoenixville Area School District school director, Ayisha Sereni said her career as a Realtor® led to an interest in local politics.

“Once I saw the connection between local politics and the real estate industry, I knew that I had to get involved so that I could do my part to make a difference,” said Sereni. “Being a Realtor® has provided me with keen insight into vital issues that Pennsylvania property owners are facing, such as obtaining affordable housing, land use planning, eminent domain proceedings and property tax assessment reform. Developing a deeper understanding of the important issues that impact the real estate industry has fueled my interest in becoming involved in the local political community and has given me the requisite knowledge necessary to make a positive difference outside of a real estate transaction.”

“I knew that I had to get involved so that I could do my part to make a difference,” she added. “Thanks to the knowledge that I acquired as a Realtor®, I developed a strong sense of self-efficacy that gave me the confidence to run for the position of Phoenixville Area School District school board director.”

Michael Rivera, a candidate for Berks County commissioner, said that being involved in the community has always been a priority to him – and should be to every Realtor®.

“There are so many opportunities to help others grow and help organizations that will have a positive impact on the community at large. At the community level is where you are able to really learn what is needed in the community and how you can become an agent of change to provide for those needs,” said Rivera.

“Berks County is a great place to work, live and raise a family. The county is in a good position, but it can be in a better position. I want to make sure Berks County continues its economic development growth, which will create jobs and keep unemployment low as well as attract people to the county. Fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes low are also important to me. We need to always be innovating and moving forward to ensure a bright future,” added Rivera.

A candidate for Beaver County recorder of deeds, Dee Dixon said her career as a Realtor® made her more involved in the community, and her involvement continues to grow.

“When the opportunity presented itself to run for office, it was my love for real estate and my passion for helping others that inspired me to take a leap of faith and run. I wanted to be more involved in local government and put to use my leadership skills and expertise. I believe my role on the County Tax Assessment Appeal Board was a stepping stone. I believe in living life with purpose and I’m running for office with my family and the people of Beaver County in mind doing what it takes to help move our county forward,” said Dixon. “I feel more connected to the people in my county and it’s truly a wonderful feeling to be involved outside of the real estate transaction.”

Rick Heffner, who is running for a seat on Laureldale Borough Council, Berks County, said seeing clients’ frustrations with taxes, zoning, inspections, private property rights and so on inspired him to run for office.

“I decided that in order to better service my clients, I had to get more involved with the municipal process. I have served on various task forces, was involved with rewriting the property maintenance code, worked with the Fair Housing Council, was past president of the Berks County Real Estate Association and a member of several other local boards,” he said. “For more than 30 years, I have been a homeowner, a small business owner and a Realtor®. I have the experience of dealing with all sides of an issue, as I have personally been on all sides over the years. Because I have encountered the issues that we as Realtors® have to deal with during the everyday course of doing business, I decided to be proactive by getting involved with local government. In experiencing these issues firsthand, I have a much better understanding of the impact that taxes, zoning laws, municipal inspections, etc. have on our industry.”

A candidate for White Township supervisor, Westmoreland County, Rich Gallo said his 25 years as a real estate agent and then broker have given him the experience to best serve the community.

“As a Realtor®, I realize the importance of community involvement to help in protecting property owners’ rights. As an elected official who has to make decisions of land development, we must be involved with the real estate community to keep on top of the property owners and their involvement in what they want for their community and its growth, yet not to over step their rights as property owners,” said Gallo. ” As a public servant for more than 20 years on Indiana Borough Council, I feel I can give back to my community. Also, I really enjoy serving on local government, meeting and working with people.”

In Montour County, Dan Hartman is running for reelection as county commissioner. “Having been a Realtor® for 45 years has been beneficial in my awareness of the needs, the wants and the aspirations of the citizenry of Montour County. I was involved in many organizations in an attempt to increase the quality of life in the area and to make this valley community a desirable and safe place to live and raise a family. I have learned so much while operating my own business and dealing with people. I learned how to listen to people, solve problems and help clients to realize their dreams.”

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