After nearly 17 years lobbying on behalf of local Realtors, Brian Bernardoni is leaving his post as the Chicago Association of Realtors’ senior director of government affairs and public policy.
Bernardoni will leave the association on Oct. 1. As of next week, Kristopher Anderson will be CAR’s director of government and external affairs, concentrating his work on Chicago City Council. Anderson started in external affairs at CAR late last year, and was previously with Illinois Realtors working on government affairs issues in Chicago. Illinois Realtors’ Adriann Murawski will become the state association’s local government affairs director with primary responsibility for Cook County.
“We are excited to welcome Adriann to the team, and confident that the collaboration between Kris and Adriann will help us to advance our mission of uniting all facets of the industry as a leading advocate for real estate,” said CAR CEO Michelle Mills Clement.
As for his next move, Bernardoni said he plans to announce details soon, but he did give Chicago Agent magazine a peek into his plans. “We’re putting together a team to open up a shop in public affairs,” he said, adding that he thinks some of the names he’ll be working with “will surprise people.”
Addressing some of the speculation around a possible career in politics, Bernardoni wasn’t specific. “I’m not ruling out elected office,” he said, noting that he’s not an entirely unknown entity among local political groups, having been part of the pre-slating process for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.
Bernardoni was somewhat vague about the elected positions that interest him. “I could end up running for assessor, or you know, they might need a dog catcher in my town. I’m good with animals and small children,” he said with a laugh. “But clearly I’ve got real concerns about where we’re going as a county.”
Bernardoni noted there are many pressing issues the association will be watching closely in the coming years. “Public policy is very important for this industry. It always has been, but perhaps especially so right now,” he said. But one of the most urgent matters he sees on the horizon is one that’s been around for awhile: pressures faced by taxpayers. He said all the different layers of local government — city, county and state — have recently or may soon come to taxpayers for help footing their various bills. Bernardoni likes to look at these interests as part of a “stack” of fiscal needs because, while there are many government entities looking for funds, “there’s only one taxpayer” for them to tap into.
“Chicago is a vibrant city with a great business core… But how do we keep working to keep Chicago, the region and the state marketable? Those are the things I worry about,” he said. “In the end, it’s the hard-working realtor who’s out there trying to convince consumers this is a good investment.”
There’s a potential for rapid change in the air, with the new mayor and governor both looking to make their marks, an atmosphere not lost on Bernardoni. “From the political side, you’re seeing new directions at the national, state and local levels,” Bernardoni said. “It’s interesting times.”
While there are challenges ahead for his replacement, Bernardoni reiterated his pride in the accomplishments of the association during his tenure, including advocacy on neighborhood economic development, building code changes, the nation’s largest land bank, and transfer and property taxes. Bernardoni noted that he’s still planning to remain active in real estate issues. For example, he plans to retain his post as the chair of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s affordable housing task force for Region Five. “I’m not entirely walking away from that aspect of my life,” he said, noting that affordable housing is one of the issues that will “determine the success of many neighborhoods” in the city.