On Friday, April 26, the Laguna Board of Realtors held their 94th annual membership meeting. Each year, the REALTOR® members and their affiliates (A.K.A. business partners) meet to vote on bylaws and get an update from the board of directors. Traditionally, there is a keynote speaker from outside their ranks who shares some insight that is relevant to the mission of assisting with real estate transactions and advocating for property ownership.
This year’s speaker was particularly special, since he is the representative for California’s 48th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Harley Rouda. Yes, for one day only, the Neighborhood Congregational Church became the Neighborhood Congressional Church (not really). Introduced by 2019 Board President, Dave Csira, the group was thrilled and honored to have Laguna’s very own congressman address the members. Tall, handsome, articulate and warm, Congressman Rouda’s speech began by telling the rapt audience about his roots in the real estate industry.
Growing up as the youngest of four children, he shared memories of stuffing listing presentations in his family’s basement in Ohio for his father’s real estate brokerage. Initially choosing a different path of practicing law, he was drawn back into the business in 1996, becoming the company’s CEO. Boldly steering the firm in the opposite direction of the rest of the industry, Harley took the risk of bypassing the usual ads in the weekend papers and went all-in with a new technology push, leveraging the then nascent Internet before anyone else was doing so. The strategy worked with the brokerage growing to become one of the three largest independent real estate firms in the country. By 2009, with the industry consolidating, Harley successfully negotiated a sale of the firm to Brookfield Properties, later to be brought under the umbrella of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.
With the audience hanging on every word (few had any notion of his depth of real estate knowledge), the Congressman spoke about his accomplishments and agenda in the Nation’s capital. Aggressively addressing many of the greatest challenges of our age, like: Climate Change (citing 98% of scientists agree that climate change is a real and current threat and that it is at least partially caused by man); Homelessness, Healthcare; Equal rights and equal pay for all; Compassionate care for the elderly, Prevention of Gun violence and; Immigration. In fact, Congressman Rouda has introduced and passed more legislation than any other freshman Congressman in cooperation with his Republican colleagues. OAC may grab the headlines, but HR has gotten the results.
Prioritizing those who voted him into office, he made over 36,000 constituent contacts in 764 meetings in his first 100 days in office. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, he has brought a sense of decency and transparency to an office that was in desperate need of change.