Affiliate Spotlight: Kathy Carlton, Apartment Association of Greater Dallas (AAGD)
Kathy Carlton is the Director of Government Affairs for the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas (AAGD). She’s been with AAGD for 22 years. NAA caught up with Kathy to discuss the local issues AAGD is facing and the best advice she ever received.
NAA: What are AAGD’s local legislative/regulatory priorities for 2016?
KC: HUD has its spotlight aimed on Dallas for alleged disparate impact and fair housing issues. Our greatest concerns will be providing “affordable housing” in a robust market and seeing that housing vouchers for veterans are absorbed.
NAA: What are your local officials concentrating on?
KC: Tightening up regulations for single-family rentals and affordable housing efforts. We continue to watch for mandates to accept Section 8 vouchers.
NAA: How did you get involved in politics?
KC: I have worked for two cities prior to AAGD, so I was very aware of the impact of local government elections. I have been involved at the local level for many years.
NAA: What is the most challenging aspect of your job and what is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
KC: The most challenging aspect is to get our members educated about how important the political process is to their business and why they need to know their elected officials. It is also a challenge to keep up with the variety of cities in our service area and what new programs they may be considering. We handle approximately 23 cities with significant apartment numbers, so it’s like playing “bop a mole.” The most rewarding aspect, even after all these years, is helping a member with a local problem by getting them in contact with the right people and working through the system for a fair resolution.
NAA: What are the top issues that association members consistently throw at you?
KC: It always has been, and always will be, keeping up with new code enforcement regulations. We have very aggressive inspection programs in all of our cities in North Texas, so owners and managers need to know what to expect during a typical inspection, and they rely upon us to provide that information.
NAA: What are your typical day-to-day responsibilities as your association’s government affairs director?
KC: Most people think I have a fancy lunch every day and hang out at fundraisers in the homes of wealthy Dallasites. Although that aspect is part of the job, it’s a small component. Most days I’m answering questions from members; working on how to raise more PAC dollars; writing reports; attending briefings; or participating in task force meetings on everything from community service projects to solid waste.
NAA: What do you think are the biggest threats to the industry?
KC: Besides the fluctuating economy, which everyone watches, our biggest threat is governmental “do-gooders” who think they have the simple solution to solve whatever is the perceived problem of the moment. Elected officials naturally want to fix problems during their tenure, and often offer over-simplistic solutions that end up causing unexpected consequences, usually involving wasted time and money.
NAA: What is your current “hot” project?
KC: My project for 2016 is to become involved with the HUD-VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) program and see how we can get engaged in providing a solution.
NAA: Any special awards or skill worth mentioning?
KC: I’ve won several NAA Paragon Awards for various Government Affairs projects, and I can hula dance!
NAA: What is your favorite political movie?
KC: All the President’s Men.
NAA: What was the last “non-political” book that you’ve read?
KC: Big Little Lies – I just read HBO is picking it up as a short series with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
NAA: What do you do during your down time?
KC: I am president of a local women’s club, so I stay very busy with meetings, charitable work, and socializing.
NAA: Where did you go to school?
KC: San Diego State University and the University of Texas, Arlington.
NAA: What was your first job?
KC: I was on the Fashion Board for Sears in high school and worked in the record department (remember those?) on the weekends.
NAA: What is your favorite band?
KC: Mercy Me.
NAA: Who is your favorite sports team?
KC: Gotta go with the Cowboys, but I have been known to cheer for both the Chargers and the Philadelphia Eagles, as I have ties to both.
NAA: What is the best advice you've ever received?
KC: As the Spartan mothers said to their sons: “With your shield or on it,” meaning to either return from battle successful or die trying. (Of course, this advice was given to me by my old boss Gerry Henigsman when he sent me off to meet with city officials!)
NAA: Is there anything else about your job, association or personal bit of information that you would like your colleagues across the country to know about?
KC: It has been a tremendous privilege to be associated with such a progressive organization, where the members really become your friends. I’ve been married to a very supportive husband for 35 years, who encourages me to “do my thing.” I enjoy reading, watching movies, sports, and all things outdoors. I have three adopted children who are grown and on their own, and love spending time with my four grandchildren.