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Local Apt Owner Wins Seat on County Commission

Apt Owner Wins county commission
July 2018

This independent rental owner in Kentucky's first bid for public office was successful.

Socking it to local rental owners to help raise cash for government programs is not new. In Boone County, near Cincinnati, a 911 Dwelling Unit Service Fee of $75 was a step too far, according to Jesse Brewer, a rental operator there since 2005. So he decided to run for a seat on the County Commission Board.

He won.

“The Commission controls the purse strings for the County here,” Brewer says. “For too long, its decisions were anti-property owner. I wanted to do something about it.”

Brewer defeated the incumbent in May and will run unopposed in November. After that, he will serve a four-year term, which would require approximately 100 hours per month.

In Boone County, the fee applies to every dwelling, commercial or exempt property that is occupied on July 1, 2018. Says Brewer, it means a single-family home would pay $75, a Wal-Mart pays $75 and a 10-unit fully occupied apartment building pays $750.

“I see too many unfair or excessive fees,” says Brewer.

Brewer heads Cincy Area Properties and owns and manages 266 apartment homes in 25 communities. He is a board member of Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Apartment Association (GCNKAA) and is involved with its Legislative Committee. He has participated in Independent Rental Owner (IRO) events.

Apartment owners in markets nationwide can relate.

Brewer, 40, who had never run for a government position before, ran as a Republican. His first move was to put on his marketing hat, using techniques he learned through real estate sales. Boone County comprises 105,000 registered voters (55,000 are Republican).

He went door-to-door, advertised on billboards, put up signs, and used direct mail.

“I’ve learned that a personal touch can pay off, so I had my team hand-write addresses for our mailings,” Brewer says. “If the envelope is hand-written, the chances are much greater that at least [the recipient] will open it.”

In his first outreach effort, he sent 18,000 pieces of mail.

On May 22, Brewer unseated two-term incumbent Commissioner Charlie Walton with 55 percent. Brewer received 5,374 votes. Walton received 4,401 votes.

Brewer’s efforts were among the many reasons he was chosen for an NAA Excel Award for Independent Rental Owner (IRO) of the Year with more than 250 units.