With their in-depth knowledge of real estate and housing issues combined with the integral role they play in their local communities, Realtors® can make great candidates for official elected positions. Here are three real estate professionals running for local offices this coming Election Day on Nov. 7.
Amy Webster, Blair County Commissioner
A member of the Allegheny Highlands Association of Realtors®, Webster has been a broker for nine years, an attorney for 40 and a commissioner for nearly four. This Election Day, she’s running for re-election for Blair County Commissioner. She first decided to run for office in 2019 with the goal to keep real estate taxes low to benefit real estate buyers and sellers.
When asked why it’s important for real estate professionals to serve as elected officials, Webster said, “I think in general, we’re very knowledgeable about real estate. On a county basis, real estate tax is the primary form of income for a county to use on services that are required to be provided to citizens. If taxes get too high, then houses don’t get maintained or people move away.”
“Being able to be a part of the whole system that is making decisions about taxation and the budget is very important to Realtors® and for when you’re trying to sell or buy a property,” she added.
Webster believes everyone should be involved in government regardless of whether they’re in real estate. “I would encourage everyone to be involved,” she recommended. “Start going to meetings and look into offices that interest you. I would also encourage any Realtor® or broker who’s interested to attend meetings and run for office.”
Mathew Beith, Venango County Commissioner
Beith, a member of the Allegheny Valley Board of Realtors®, has been a Realtor® for 10 years and is a certified general appraiser. He decided to run for election to continue his public service efforts and to ensure that all members of Venango County have the ability to achieve success. When it comes to housing, Beith aims to provide equal access to affordable, sustainable and quality housing.
“Housing is the basic foundation of what you need to build a good community, and who knows the issues in the housing market better than Realtors®?” he asked. He believes it’s important for Realtors® to serve as elected officials because they help play a key role in creating and supporting sustainable and welcoming communities.
“Realtors® are the stewards of housing in our communities, and we need to be conscious of that. It’s a tremendous responsibility, and we need to make sure we’re taking it as seriously as we should.”
What advice does Beith have for other real estate professionals who might be considering running for office? “Do it,” he said. “Ask the questions. Go see the elections office. Go talk to elected officials. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about what you stand for and what you believe in and the ways you think you can improve your community. Ultimately, that’s the goal here. Elected officials are supposed to be focused on helping others improve their lives and improve the communities they’re serving.”
Michael Rivera, Berks County Commissioner
Rivera is a Realtor® alongside his wife and son. A Reading-Berks Association of Realtors® member, Rivera decided to run for re-election this year to see through the various projects he began in his first term, including the Imagine Berks plan, which looks at ways to improve rental and ownership issues throughout the county, including housing affordability, the need for new and redeveloped housing and the transformation of old buildings into new, usable ones.
“As a real estate professional, you have a lot of knowledge of things going on in the community,” Rivera said when asked why it’s important for real estate professionals to serve as elected officials. “It’s important that when you have knowledge of the community, you get engaged.”
For real estate professionals who are considering running for office, he recommends working on a campaign for a candidate you like in order to understand how it works. Attending local municipality board meetings can also help you engage and open doors to other opportunities.
For everyone, Rivera stressed the importance of voting in all elections. “I encourage people to get out and vote. A lot of people don’t see local elections as important ones. It’s these local races that have the biggest impact on your day-to-day living. These elections are important for people to get out, get engaged and vote.”
Election Day is Nov. 7. If voting in person, make sure to confirm your polling place.