Affiliate Spotlight: Alice Ehn, Washtenaw Area Apartment Association
Alice Ehn has been the Executive Officer for the Washtenaw Area Apartment Association (WAAA) in Ann Arbor, Mich., for 18 years. Prior to working there, Ehn was a treasury specialist, accounting for and transferring mortgage-backed securities for a bank and accounting for the Federal Reserve funding levels.
NAA caught up with her to discuss the political races she’s watching, her top-notch sleuthing ability and her favorite NAA trips.
NAA: What are your association’s state legislative priorities this year?
AE: A bed bug bill that would allow landlords and tenants to determine treatment and costs together with a shared focus, allowing landlords to prevent the smoking and growing of marijuana in multifamily housing and changing the manner in which judgments for money are served by the court---allowing for posting the notice to the door (the same as the eviction process) as opposed to current law that allows the eviction by posting and the judgment for back rent must be personal service only.
NAA: What are the local legislative/regulatory priorities for this year?
AE: No legislation is on this year’s agenda. We have been trying to repeal an early lease signing ordinance and work with the University of Michigan to curtail bad behavior at the Greek communities’ satellite houses. A Satellite house is a house next door or in close proximity to the Greek house that is rented from a private property owner. It’s where the Greek parties happen because parties in the Greek house are prohibited.
NAA: What races are you watching this year?
AE: The Senate Race in Michigan for Sen. Carl Levin’s retired seat. The race is between ex-Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and current U.S. House Rep. Gary Peters. I am also watching the governor’s race between Democrat Mark Schauer and the incumbent Rick Snyder.
NAA: How did you get involved in politics?
AE: Being the executive officer of a small local affiliate, we did not have the resources to employ a separate legislative person, so to service our local members appropriately I needed to be informed of what legislation will hurt or help them and to be the watchdog for them.
NAA: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
AE: The most challenging aspect is keeping up with all the publications I need to read to make sure nothing slips under the radar. So far, no one for the opposing side of issues has alerted me to a potential issue. Sleuthing is hard work.
NAA: What are the top issues that association members consistently throw at you?
AE: The city Inspections Departments (we have three that we need to watch) are continually making business life difficult for our members and this is 50 percent of what my members call me about. The other 50 percent are the conflicts between the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and rental housing.
NAA: What has been your favorite NAA conference/destination site and why?
AE: The Capitol Conference in Washington D.C. The designated opportunity to talk directly to our elected officials is amazing. My association requires our president and/or president elect to come to the conference, and it is my opportunity to share with them the reason we all are affiliated and what this entire organization is about. Besides, I love history and there is no better place than the nation’s capital for that.
NAA: What’s the best time you’ve had with other AEs or Government Affairs staff at other affiliates?
AE: That is probably the hardest question. There are so many. The Santa Monica pier with the outdoor concert of Kasey Chambers really rises to the top with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the Salvador Dali Museum with the Bay Area Apartment Association, and the personal tour of the Pentagon with Region 3 representatives after 9/11 (again history).
NAA: What was the last “non-political” book that you read?
AE: Clive Cussler’s “The Wrecker.”
NAA: It’s Sunday morning, which show are you watching? Face the Nation, Meet the Press or This Week?
AE: I don’t watch any of these…..I go to breakfast and listen to cable news on Monday morning to get the abridged version.
NAA: Do you miss your Blackberry?
AE: No, I have an iPhone.
NAA: Who do you follow on Twitter?
AE: No one; I am too old.
NAA: What do you do during your down time?
AE: Read, knit, go camping or swimming at the beach or gym.