PHOTO: Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks to a crowd at the Williamson County Association of Realtors headquarters in Brentwood on Wednesday afternoon / Photo by Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
The Williamson County Association of Realtors jumped on board a national trend by hosting the first candidate training academy at their Brentwood headquarters on Wednesday.
The day-long event offered advice on everything from email lists to budget charts and online fundraising to running for public office.
In the afternoon, Secretary of State Tre Hargett arrived and spoke about his successful first political campaign. In 1996, he ran for state representative in District 97.
When going door to door in a primarily Republican district in western Tennessee, Hargett said he had to make the conscious decision to target voters who were likely to vote in the Republican primary. He suggested candidates in the room do the same.
“If you want to go buy a brand new Honda Accord, would you drive up to the Volvo lot to go buy a Honda?” he asked. “Go to where the votes are.”
Hargett also encouraged potential candidates to identify their core principles and stick with them, and to respect their opponents.
“We’ve got to learn to respect one another,” he said, noting the importance of hearing and respecting different opinions. “You’ve got to be able to do what you can do to live with yourself after and believe that you ran the kind of race that you can be proud and your family and supporters can be proud of.”
Bo Patten, WCAR’s director of government affairs, organized the event. In the beginning stages, he asked Hargett, a friend of his, if he would stop by and share his story.
“We’re always looking to grow our political advocacy footprint and arm in local communities,” Patten said of the event.
The county realtors, Patten said, want to encourage people to run for office, “who are going to be sensitive to the real estate industry, people that will help preserve and protect property rights, and people that will help protect the American dream of home ownership.”
“There are people who really don’t know the nuts and bolts of a political campaign, and that’s what this class is about,” he said.
The event attendees hailed from the Williamson County Association Realtors, which number 2,500, Williamson, Inc. Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Nashville Realtors. The organizations all co-sponsored the event.
Williamson Inc.’s Director of Government Affairs Kel McDowell echoed Patten’s reasoning for getting involved with the training academy.
“As an economic development organization, we want to help and assist on any individuals who are looking to get involved with the community,” McDowell said. “We want to have the tools out there and have it as an open opportunity for those who want to partake in it and develop those tools to run for office.”
Patten moved to the region only last year. Upon moving, he said he had attended a similar event that was offered through the National Association of Realtors. After attending, he was inspired to bring it to Williamson County.
Republican Rebecca Burke and District 6 County Commissioner Jeff Ford, who are both seeking the District 61 State House seat, were among event attendees.