Editor’s note: With 1 million Realtors in the U.S. backed by a trade association with one of the largest Political Action Committees, there’s no doubt that real estate has a powerful political voice in this country. In this three-part series, we caught up with a variety of these voices to find out what issues they care about and why. (See Part 2: The Democrats of real estate.)

The real estate professionals featured in this story share two common threads: the Republican Party and real estate. However, each has his or her own reasons, level of political involvement, background and views on politics.

Sally Lerette
Realtor, Red Arrow Real Estate
Prescott, Ariz.
Political party: Republican

Lerette, an Arizona real estate agent, has a grandson in Iraq and every Friday night she holds up signs at the local courthouse to show her support for American troops. She’s deeply involved in Republican causes, attended the 2000 Republican national convention as an alternate delegate and is helping out with a sheriff’s race.

She believes anyone who works in real estate should be involved and sees her own political participation as part of her responsibility as a Realtor. Numerous issues could affect realty agents, including zoning changes, water concerns and property transfer fees. Lerette worked against a proposal by Arizona’s governor to implement such a fee.

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“In every state that has it, it always increases, it never goes away,” Lerette said. “Like most taxes.”

Those political beliefs stem from personal and professional experiences, and have kept Lerette involved with the Republican Party, and an active member of a local Republican women’s group.

“I’m a very conservative woman and of course I’m self-employed and I believe in the free enterprise system and less taxes, less government,” Lerette said. “It’s better for me and all of us.”

Scott Gaertner
Associate broker, RE/MAX Excalibur
Scottsdale, Ariz.
Political party: Republican

Gaertner, an Arizona real estate broker, knew if he ever wanted to visit home again he’d have to register as a Republican. His mother gave him no choice, since she’s always been active in the party, volunteering at polling venues and sitting on political committees for as long as Gaertner can remember.

Despite the familial pressure though, Gaertner’s personal views coincide with the Republican Party on most major issues. He believes a smaller government is better than a larger one and that the citizens’ money should stay in their possession, not the government’s.

Some political issues that matter to Gaertner this year include the war in Iraq, strengthening the economy and keeping banks out of real estate. He thinks it’s important to prevent finance and commerce from coming together.

Gaertner won’t be attending any political events this year, but he plans to visit the polls in November and vote for George Bush.

Gregory Pawlik
Realty agent, Coldwell Banker
Southern California
Political party: Republican

Pawlik, a commercial real estate associate, is no stranger to politics. He was one of 135 candidates for governor of California in a recall election last year that was eventually won by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is also active in the National Association of Realtors leadership, and has served as a director for the past seven years.

He was elected president of the Beverly Hills Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors in 1992 and 1996, and in 1996, he won the association’s William May Garland award of excellence.

Pawlik believes a Republican administration could be better for the housing market than a Democratic administration, because there is a possibility that interest rates will rise more gradually in a Republican administration. Consistency and strength in the economy, job growth, and holding down inflation are important issues he thinks will “make for a happier U.S.A.”

“The non-volatility of the interest rates I think will have a direct impact on the continuing strength (of real estate), particularly of the residential market. It also has an impact on the commercial market,” he added.

There are no sour grapes for him about Schwarzenegger’s victory in the recall election. “I’m real happy with the way that Schwarzenegger is approaching issues in the state of California. In the long-term, it’s going to be good for the state of California.” A resident of Pacific Palisades, Pawlik has been a Realtor for over 25 years.

John Mudd
Realtor, Exit Realty Suncoast
Largo, Fla.
Political party: Republican

Florida Realtor Mudd believes in the stimulus power of tax cuts, deregulation, a balanced budget, a strong national defense and moral leadership. He’s an economic conservative and a Republican who belongs to “Small Business Leaders for Bush-Cheney ’04 National Steering Committee.”

His political heroes are Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, Mudd disagrees with his party on at least one major issue: stem cell research. As a life-long diabetic, he believes stem cell research could work toward helping others with diabetes, as well as diseases such as Alzheimer’s. As long as abortion is legal, he said, it doesn’t make sense to throw stem cells in the trash instead of using them to save lives.

Mudd believes the government should provide a health care insurance stipend to independent contractors–such as real estate agents–whose employers do not pay for their insurance.

In Mudd’s opinion, President George Bush and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez have made tremendous moves to create financing opportunities for first-time home buyers. Mudd fully supports Martinez’ current run for U.S. Senate, and this November, he intends to vote for Bush.

Shashi Barfield
Realtor, Alain Pinel Realtors
Carmel, Calif.
Political party: Republican

Barfield just became a U.S. citizen in April 2004, and she has not yet been able to vote in a major election but she’s registered as a Republican.

“I look forward to researching the issues and making my decisions as a new citizen,” she said. “I feel that Republicans take responsibility for their actions and think things through. They act quietly and effectively and don’t need major ‘attention.’ They don’t seem to cater to one group or do things to gain favor with one group. They just seem more cohesive and solid.”

Barfield, who has worked in various aspects of the real estate business for several years, has lived in several locations around the world before her arrival in California. She specializes in residential real estate in Carmel, Pebble Beach, Bay Ridge and the Monterey Peninsula.

Tomorrow: Meet the Democrats of real estate.

Give us your two cents: send a letter to the editor or news tip to newsroom@inman.com.

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