REALTORS® rally behind the Rockford Schools referendum

In Rockford, voters on Nov. 6 approved the Rockford School District bond referendum, which was strongly supported by the Rockford Area REALTORS® and the Illinois Association of REALTORS® RVOICE program. The referendum granting the school board authority to sell $139 million in bonds to pay for school facility improvements was reportedly the largest bond referendum in the district’s history and does not involve raising taxes.

REALTOR® support helped fund the professionally run “Better Schools Brighter Future” campaign, which involved a speaker’s bureau, yard signs, radio and TV ads, direct mail and an issue website,

“I’m thrilled with the vote because the community recognized the importance of the situation and the role of good, strong schools for everyone. It’s easy to get behind kids and schools, and we will see the positive ripple effect for the housing market, manufacturing and the overall economy in Rockford.” – REALTOR® Frank Wehrstein, Managing Broker, Dickerson & Nieman

Featured in the campaign video below, REALTOR® Ray King says: “Schools are the front porch of a community. Attractive, well maintained, high-performing schools are good for neighborhoods and good for the students and good for the entire community.”

Conor Brown is the Illinois Association of REALTORS® local Government Affairs Director (GAD) for the Rockford Area Association of REALTORS®.


Illinois REALTORS® help defeat home rule in Kenilworth and Westmont

Local associations and the Illinois Association of REALTORS®  RVOICE program was at work in four local communities in Illinois fighting against home rule referenda. In Kenilworth and Westmont, voters defeated home rule. In Maywood and Homer Glen, voters approved it. Pursuant to the Illinois Constitution, a municipality can seek to become home rule unit if the voters approve it in a referendum. A municipality automatically becomes a home rule unit when its population reaches 25,000. With home rule status come additional powers to regulate and tax.

IAR has a long history of challenging home rule at the local level. My Feb. 2 blog post “Potential Pitfalls for REALTORS, Property Owners with Home Rule,” explains why in detail and you can get a snapshot of the issue in this Home Rule infographic. These are four of the main reasons REALTORS® and RVOICE work to stop home rule: 1) It can increase the debt load for local governments, 2) home rule often leads to higher property taxes without voter approval, 3) more regulations, red tape and fees on the real estate transaction, and 4) new inspection fees, again, without voter approval.

This mailer is an example of one of the tactics used by IAR and the RVOICE program to stop home rule. Postcards were mailed to voters in Kenilworth and REALTORS® also organized a get-out-the-vote campaign.



The General Election is Nov. 6. Get out and support pro-REALTOR® candidates. Here are the key election deadlines to keep in mind:

  • October 9
    Last day to register to vote in Illinois
  • October 10 – November 3 
    Grace period registration – in office of local election authority
  • October 22 – November 3
    Early voting period
  • November 1
    Last day for local election authority to receive absentee ballot application by mail
  • November 5 
    Last day to vote absentee in person at the local election authority General Election

Have a question about voting in Illinois?
You’ll find answers at the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website,, including information on registering to vote, finding your local polling place, absentee voting requirements and more.

Read more Quick Takes from the October 2012 issue of Illinois REALTOR®.

Neither wind, or rain or a looming hurricane stops IAR

IAR sent off a cadre of folks to the Republican National Convention Saturday, all the while knowing that things might not go according to plan.

Tropical Storm Isaac was expected to stalk by Tampa, Fla., but latest forecasts Sunday afternoon had the storm’s center tracking offshore and not targeting the gathering. All of which is great for the IAR delegation, which is staying at a hotel in Clearwater Beach, Fla. (The closest they could get.)

Chief Governmental Affairs Director Greg St. Aubin, channeling his inner Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel, filed this report from a very windy beach. He’s at the event with IAR’s president-elect Mike Oldenettel and IAR CEO Gary Clayton.

No doubt, this will be a convention to remember.