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NEFAR Candidate Screening

NEFAR's candidate screening process is regarded as one of the most comprehensive and professional programs in the region.

Why does NEFAR screen candidates?
The candidate screening process is one of the most important benefits you receive as a member of the Realtor family. Through candidate interviews, local Realtor associations help to ensure that candidates who support the Realtor position on issues get elected at all levels of government. Consider what would have happened during the 2002 Florida Legislative session if a majority of the members of the House of Representatives and House Speaker Tom Feeney supported Senator McKay's proposal to eliminate the exemptions for tax services. Had that occurred, Realtors today would likely be paying a tax on commissions. Luckily, Realtors across the state have worked hard to get people like Speaker Feeney elected.

How does the process work?
Upcoming elections within the NEFAR jurisdiction are tracked by the Government Affairs Department. Candidate lists are compiled and each candidate facing opposition in a race is sent a letter of invitation to interview with the task force. All qualified candidates in a race (excluding write-in candidates) are invited to participate. Candidates are required to complete a preliminary questionnaire and are asked to submit a personal resume'. In most cases, all candidates in a particular race will be interviewed on the same day. On the day of the interviews, the Candidate Task Force convenes prior to meeting with the first candidate to review questions and candidate packets. Candidates are scheduled for 30 - 45 minute individual interviews. Candidates are asked to give an opening statement and then members ask the candidate questions from a predetermined question list. Candidate responses are timed. Once all candidates in a race are interviewed, the Task Force members convene to discuss the candidates and decide which candidate, if any, would best represent the real estate industry in the elected position. The Task Force votes on whether to recommend NEFAR support for a candidate to the Board of Directors and how much, if any, RPAC funding to recommend for the candidate.

What are the qualifications to serve on the Candidate Screening Task Force?
You must be a NEFAR member in good standing who have contributed to the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC) within the past 12 months. Members of the Candidate Screening Task Force must also attend a Candidate Screening training session. Training is conducted on an as-needed basis by the Government Affairs Director. Task Force members must sign a confidentiality agreement prior to each screening session and a disclosure statement declaring any association with any of the candidates scheduled to be interviewed. You may not participate or vote for any races in a particular municipality if you are running for election in that municipality. If you are a candidate for a statewide or national seat, you are not allowed to participate or vote in any statewide or national elections screenings.

Do I have to be fully informed on all issues or politically involved?
No. If you are a working Realtor or affiliate / business partner member, you are likely aware of those issues that affect your business.

If I am already supporting a candidate, does that prevent me from serving on the Task Force?
No. NEFAR encourages all of our members to be politically active. If you are currently supporting a candidate, however, you are required to disclose that information, but you may serve on the Task Force. Only individuals who are being paid for their services on a candidate's campaign are ineligible to serve.

If I volunteer, how much time will I need to commit?
The amount of time that the Candidate Screening Task Force meets depends on two factors: the number of elections held during the year and the number of candidates qualified in each race. Candidate interviews are 30 - 45 minutes long. On an interview day, the Task Force allots about 30 minutes for organizational business, conducts the scheduled interviews, and then allots time after the interviews are completed to vote on their recommendations.

If I serve on the Task Force, am I required to be present for all of the interviews scheduled?
You must be present to interview all of the candidates in a particular race to participate in voting on a recommendation for that race. This is one of the rules that helps preserve the integrity of NEFAR's process.

Where does the Task Force meet?
The Task Force usually meets at The Resource Center (NEFAR headquarters facility in Jacksonville). However, Beaches candidates are typically interviewed at NEFAR's Beaches Service Center, Putnam County candidates are typically interviewed at NEFAR's Putnam Service Center, and St. Johns County candidates are typically interviewed at NEFAR's St. Johns Service Center.

Do I have to prepare questions to ask the candidates?
No. The questions that are asked of the candidates are prepared in advance of the screening by NEFAR's Government Affairs Department. The Task Force is given time to review the questions prior to the start of the interviews and to offer any revisions or suggestions for additional questions.

What types of questions are asked of the candidates?
The candidates are asked a series of questions about real estate issues. The questions may be centered on national or statewide issues such as Smart Growth or they may focus on local issues such as sign ordinances. The Task Force may also ask questions to determine the viability of a candidate's campaign. Incumbent candidates may also be asked questions about their previous voting history on real estate related legislation. All candidates in a race are asked the same questions so that the Task Force can evaluate the candidates based on the same information and to promote fairness.

What happens once the Candidate Screening Task Force votes on a candidate?
The Candidate Screening Task force's recommendations are reported to NEFAR's Board of Directors; upon whom final decisions rest.

How much RPAC money do candidates receive?
For national elections, a political action committee (PAC) can contribute up to $5,000 per election to a candidate. For statewide and local elections in Florida, a PAC can contribute up to $1,000 per election to a candidate.

What is NEFAR's area of jurisdiction for elections?
NEFAR covers all of Duval, Clay and Putnam counties as well as Ponte Vedra and northwest St. Johns County.

What are some other ways we can help candidates?
NEFAR encourages members to support recommended candidates. Individual members can contribute to a candidate with donations of time or money. Members can help out by volunteering to place signs in their front yards, walk neighborhoods, make telephone calls, assemble and/or deliver signs, wave signs or host neighborhood meet and greets for candidates. Members may also contribute personal funds to a candidate's campaign.

Why should I volunteer for the Candidate Screening Task Force?
Being involved in politics is part of doing business. If you're not involved as an individual, serving on the Task Force affords you the opportunity to get involved. By participating in screening interviews, you become directly familiar with and more informed about candidates, giving you greater confidence about your voting choices when you go to the polls. When candidates are in office after elections, you have the benefit of having personally met some of your elected officials.

How do I volunteer to serve on the Candidate Screening Task Force?
To volunteer to serve or for more information about Candidate Screen, contact NEFAR Government Affairs Director Nancy Garcia / (904) 394-9138.