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 1: Republican Realtors.)

Real estate is as diverse as it is fragmented. There’s a common misperception that all real estate professionals are Republican, but that indeed is not true. In fact, we found voices from the Democratic Party, some of whom have squeezed time in their busy schedules to follow the campaign trail.

Mitchell Story
Realtor, Long & Foster
Washington, D.C.
Political party: Democrat

Story, a registered Democrat, has also voted for Republican and independent candidates over the years. He credits his Missouri upbringing for his pragmatic approach to politics, voting for whomever he believes is the best person for the job regardless of politics. This November, however, there’s no question he’ll vote for Sen. John Kerry. He’s considering helping out with the Kerry campaign.

One of his top reasons for voting Democrat this year is his concern over the current course of the economy, saying deficit spending is “very short-sighted.” He’s also worried about the country’s direction on foreign policy.

While his personal beliefs have most influenced his political thoughts, there is some overlap between his professional concerns and politics. As a Realtor in the nation’s capital, he serves a range of international clients as well as American citizens who are generally well informed about current events.

“I don’t like, when I’m trying to show property, to have to talk about really bad foreign policy choices,” Story said.

Ann Thompson
Realtor, real estate appraiser, business owner
A. Thompson & Co. Real Estate Appraisal Service
Cincinnati, Ohio
Political party: Democrat

Thompson, an Ohio real estate appraiser and business owner, grew tired of working families not having a voice in the political landscape and decided to take a stab at her own political campaign.

Thompson is running for a seat with the Ohio House of Representatives in the 30th District. The mother of five and grandmother of 23 is concerned about property taxes, impact fees, Ohio’s proposal to tax sales commissions and the tax loopholes large corporations often utilize to get ahead.

She worries that the middle class has no voice in politics. Since she started campaigning, she’s learned that most people are afraid to speak up on political issues.

What’s your political affiliation? Take a survey.

Thompson noted the growing problem of real estate fraud and falsely inflated property values in her market. As a real estate appraiser and potential future political leader, that’s also something that worries her.

Tim Griffin
Realtor, Windermere
Political party: Democrat

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Griffin has been campaigning for Sen. John Kerry not simply because he’s a Democrat. He grew up as a Kerry constituent.

“For me personally, this isn’t just about getting Bush out of office, but the Democrats have made a fine choice in Kerry,” Griffin said.

Griffin is actively involved in the local Democratic party, attending farmers markets and other gatherings to encourage people to register to vote. Not being involved, he said, simply isn’t an option.

He chose the Seattle brokerage he works for primarily because it’s one of the most diverse in the city. Several languages are spoken in the office, and he deals with clients from all sorts of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. He also sees a lot of poverty and believes the middle class is rapidly shrinking. Griffin would like to see more policies that would help bring back that middle class and make housing more affordable to more people.

“I would like to see a lot more people being able to afford homes, obviously,” Griffin said. “It’s kind of strange for me to say this, but this city is becoming completely unaffordable.”

Bernard Klein
Real estate broker, president, Sonar Radio Corp.
Hollywood, Fla.
Political party: Democrat

Klein, a licensed real estate broker and commercial real estate owner in Florida, is one of few Democrats not calling for a repeal of President Bush’s tax cut.

Although Klein is a businessman with no political background, he’s running for a seat in the U.S. Senate this year. He said the three issues that inspired him to campaign were health care, the nation’s current approach to terrorism and social security reform.

He believes it’s important for politicians to be pro-business because that approach helps to stimulate the economy and create jobs. That’s why he agrees with recent tax cuts.

Sen. John Kerry will get Klein’s vote in November.

Francine Schiller
Realtor, city commissioner
Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Political party: Democrat

Schiller, a commissioner for the city of Hallandale Beach, Fla. and a Realtor for 27 years, said war is certainly the most pressing issue in this election year. Schiller served as a delegate to the 1988 Democratic convention.

She also served as treasurer for the Hallandale Beach Democratic Club, president of the Hallandale Beach/Pembroke Park Chamber of Commerce, a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, second vice president for the South Broward Board of Realtors, and an alternate delegate to the White House to represent small business.

Born in Manhattan, N.Y., Schiller moved to Florida in 1976. She works as a residential and commercial agent for Acme Real Estate Inc., in Hallandale.

Tomorrow: Political views from real estate professionals who sway neither left nor right.

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

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