There’s marginal progress from last month. As of today, 70 participants have contributed to the AIA Virginia PAC totaling $5,235. Three of the participants are actually not members. Though this is the most participation we have had in the first six months of a calendar year in many years, we must do better.
The majority of members say their biggest value with AIA Virginia is Government Advocacy. Yet, I’m scratching my head in disbelief as the number of practitioners who do public work and contribute to the PAC is microscopic. Our voice is only a whisper at the table because the PACs of chicken farmers dwarf ours.
Here is how PAC membership participation stacks up by local AIA component:
Most would agree, particularly most architects, that I have had an interesting path to the presidency of AIA Virginia. My involvement in the AIA began in the late ‘90’s. Upon encouragement and nomination by a colleague and good friend, David Keith, AIA, I joined the board of what was then AIA James River. After a few years of underwhelming service, I left that board, I left Richmond for Virginia Beach, and I left the traditional practice of architecture. Embarking on a new career in marketing and business development in the construction arena, I maintained my AIA membership, but for more than a decade I only occasionally attended local chapter events and socials. In my rebuilt professional path, I still had the pleasure of working with architects on a regular basis, and I began to think that I might be well positioned to serve the AIA once more. Bringing a new perspective and renewed vigor, I joined the AIA Hampton Roads board in 2012, and in a whirlwind that was as shocking as it was stimulating, I rose to AIAHR President, joined the AIA Virginia Society board as Secretary, and was nominated and elected as AIA Virginia President for 2018. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve the membership.
In the last couple of years, under the leadership of Tim Colley, AIA, and Sean Reilly, AIA, the AIA Virginia Government Advocacy Advisory Council (GAAC) has been extremely productive, and as a member of the committee, I’ve seen firsthand the hard work being put in by a group of dedicated leaders in support of the membership and our profession. In alignment with our adopted strategic plan, strong efforts are underway to engage in the legislative and regulatory environment, advocating for policies that are in alignment with the principles that drive the design of healthy and vibrant local communities. Legislative key influencers from throughout the Commonwealth have been identified and opportunities are being created for members to interact with these legislators and discuss priorities and concerns. With the help of our lobbyist, an annual legislative agenda is developed, and potentially impactful bills are tracked with our positions articulated throughout the legislative sessions.
Citizen Architects can have a powerful influence on many issues affecting our communities, and the Council has made it a priority as well to equip, empower and engage potential Citizen Architect candidates for any number of potential opportunities. Just in the last 2 months, the GAAC and AIA Virginia have identified and supported interested candidates for openings on the Virginia Art and Architecture Review Board (AARB) along with two potential vacancies for gubernatorial appointments to the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development. This board works closely with the development of the building code in the Commonwealth, and representation from within AIA Virginia is of value to and a benefit for the entire membership.
Much of the new perspective I was able to bring to the AIA table was gained through insight and experience garnered from involvement in a variety of other design and construction-related organizations, including the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), the Associated General Contractors (AGC), and the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate (HRACRE). Each organization had its own personality and helped to inform my thoughts and opinions about what the AIA did well and not so well.
One area where AIA Virginia is striving to keep up with other related organizations is in the critical area of contributions to our Political Action Campaign. Let’s face it, architects don’t contribute to their PAC like engineers, contractors or home-builders, and we need to work on that. (Take a look at this comparison) Through the PAC, AIA Virginia supports candidates who understand our profession, and when these candidates win, you and your firm benefit. By speaking with a united voice through the AIAVA PAC, architects influence government actions that affect our profession and the quality of life for all Virginians. Amplify your voice. Please consider contributing to the PAC today>>
The practice of architecture is a regulated profession that is dependent on the actions of the General Assembly and the Administration, not only for the activity of the profession but also for much of the business atmosphere in which a Virginia architect operates. Elected officials decide:
how your profession is regulated;
how government policies are developed for the conduct of your business;
how your profession is taxed;
how government procures professional services; and
the priorities for expenditure of revenue collected from citizens.
In order for your profession to have a voice in the political process, it is important to support those candidates who best represent your viewpoint on the issues. The cost of communicating with constituents and running for office has escalated geometrically over the past 15 to 20 years and it is imperative for candidates to raise enormous sums of money to be successful
In order for AIA Virginia to play a significant role in the election of the right candidates, members of the profession need to encourage qualified candidates to run for office and to support the good legislators so they can continue to serve. By giving adequate funding to AIA Virginia’s PAC, it provides your representatives a better opportunity to be in the room when the candidates are formulating their policies and determining how to vote on issues that impact architects, the businesses you serve and the community where you live.
For comparison, below is the giving data for the reporting period 2015–2016 (which represents the most recent 2-year election cycle):
$349,632 Medical Society of Virginia $521,665 Virginia Dental Association $152,450 Va. Society of Certified Public Accountants $208,045 Va. Optometric Association $141,000 Va. Society of Anesthesiologists $60,280 ACEC of Virginia $10,750 AIA Virginia
I urge your profession to step up your contributions to AIAVA for political contributions. It is one of the best investments you can make for the future of your profession and your community.
Every practicing architect and associate is affected by these issues. And we look to the AIA to protect our interests.
AIA Virginia uses the collective power of the profession to participate in the legislative and regulatory policy-making process by educating legislators about issues that are important to us.
Through the AIAVA Political Action Committee, we can support candidates for state office who understand the profession and support our goals — without regard to party affiliation.
Our membership dues will never be used to support a candidate. And that’s why the PAC needs your support. With a contentious election year for the General Assembly on the horizon, we’ve set a goal to raise $10,000 before the general election on Nov. 7.
Join the fight to protect the profession and practice by giving today.
ABOUT THE AIAVA PAC
Where Does the Money Go? Funds go toward supporting the campaigns of statewide candidates who support the architecture profession. The AIAVA PAC Board of Trustees, which is made up of AIA Virginia members, is responsible for approving every disbursement from the PAC. Approval for a disbursement is based on several criteria, such as the candidate’s understanding of the profession’s concerns, past voting record on key issues, committee assignments, and leadership positions. In addition, the committee seriously considers suggestions for candidate support from AIA components and current contributors.
How Can You Contribute? You can make a contribution online at www.aiavapac.org. You may also mail a donation to: AIAVA PAC c/o AIA Virginia 2501 Monument Avenue Richmond, VA 23220
There are no contribution limits in Virginia. The AIAVA PAC can accept contributions from any individual, corporation, union, association or partnership. It is required that all contributions received by the committee, and that required information identifying the contributor, be reported on the committee’s campaign finance reports. Federal law prohibits accepting contributions from a foreign national or foreign corporation.
A rousing start to the election season was generated by contributions and pledges to the VSAIA political action committee campaign by long-time supporter Gauthier Alvarado & Associates in Falls Church and relative PAC newcomer HDR in Alexandria.
Rob Morris, III, AIA, PE, presented his firm’s traditional $1,000 check to the PAC in December. Jim Draheim, AIA, announced his firm’s pledge of $2,000 in March. Both have combined their firms’ support with personal efforts to increase the level of participation in the PAC. They are sending letters to their peers in several firms encouraging them to join in supporting the PAC and asking that they also encourage their employees to do the same.
Ed Gillikin, AIA, VSAIA vice president for government advocacy, and the members of the government and industry affairs committee ask that individuals contribute the equivalent of one hour’s billable time to the PAC. They request that firms contribute a like amount.
With all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly open this year, the campaign goal will be to top the PAC’s previous best year of $23,630 contributed in 2006.
The PAC supports the campaigns of those candidates who have shown an understanding of what the profession does and of how architects affect the quality of life within their communities. If a candidate is running for the first time, the VSAIA considers its members’ evaluations. For incumbents, the VSAIA concentrates its support on those who serve in leadership positions and those who serve on the General Laws committees in the House and Senate. This committee reviews nearly 90 percent of the bills affecting the profession.
A candidate’s party affiliation is not considered. Historically, the VSAIA PAC’s contributions run just about 50-50 on supporting Democrats and Republicans. Information on past activity can be obtained from the Virginia Public Access Project website http://www.vpap.org/committees/profile/home/600. VAPA’s home site is www.VPAP.org.
It takes time to build rapport and trust between the architects and elected officials. This is done through individual meetings among the VSAIA legislative counsel, staff and members, and the legislators. Those in office depend on us for information about the possible impact of a bill. We depend on them to weigh that information with other sources and to reach a reasonable conclusion when the votes are taken.
To maintain the investment in these relationships, the VSAIA needs to support those candidates who supported restricting unlicensed practice, who supported limiting by contract an architect’s liability, and who support the concept of qualifications-based selection for public projects.
In supporting the PAC, you are supporting your firm and your ability to practice your profession. Please contribute to the PAC today by sending a check equal to one-hour’s billable time to the VSAIA PAC, 2501 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220.