Issues & AdvocacyIssues & Advocacy
WITH LONNIE HOOGEBOOM, ARCHIPAC’S LARGEST DONOR
Like many AIA members, Lonnie Hoogeboom, AIA , from Houston, Texas, stopped by the ArchiPAC Lounge at the AIA National Convention last May to renew his annual PAC donation. But to the surprise of everyone there, Lonnie wrote a check for $2,012, the largest contribution ArchiPAC has received in its 32-year history. Although every dollar is important, Lonnie Hoogeboom is a prime example of the level of political involvement that ArchiPAC encourages other AIA members to achieve.
During the last election, the Associated General Contractors raised nearly $1 million for their PAC, and the National Association of Home Builders raised $2.3million. The AIA , on the other hand, raised just $204,000, with only two percent of members giving. With members like Lonnie Hoogeboom, the AIA hopes to break this trend.
Below, Lonnie discusses why he feels so strongly about PAC participation and what giving means to him.
What motivated you to give at such a generous level this election?
The contribution I made was very specific to AIA President Potter’s charge during General Session at the AIA convention in D.C.: “Goal of $201,200 for 2012.” For the past decade (although on an erratic basis), I have been able to contribute to ArchiPAC at $100-$250 levels. I saw 2012 as an opportunity to be an AIA leader with a 1% contribution toward our annual goal.
As we convened in D.C., I was inspired by everything around me. It just seemed like the right time to up my ante. We heard from the keynote speeches and also from special guests, especially [U.S. Rep.] Earl Blumenauer, of the importance of the 2012 Elections and the impasse of partisan gridlock. I trust the AIA staff, Leadership, ArchiPAC Board and committees, and our lobbyists will smartly use my $2012 gift for the general benefit of the profession and the communities we serve.
The contribution I made was also specifically directed in honor of important Texas colleagues who are making a substantive difference in DC.: Jeff Potter, FAIA; Ken Ross, FAIA; Bill Wilson, FAIA; and Yvonne Castillo.
And why is it important to you to support ArchiPAC?
I am an architect who practices in the public and private sector. In both realms, the projects that mean the most to the city or region are the ones that are politically charged. If – in some small way – I am able to have a voice in what politicians and decision-makers will advance as the common-good projects, I choose to express that voice both in professional service and, when able, by financial support. For me personally, it is easier to provide funding that enables the political action than to immerse myself directly in the action. Although I do tangentially and directly engage in public work that benefits the body politic, my dollars are often more effective than my words or actions.
What is your response to AIA members that don’t see the importance of participating in ArchiPAC? And how do the decisions that are made at the federal level affect architects at the local level and why should architects care?
PAC funding is akin to voting, albeit one is voluntary and one a constitutional right. In tandem, these are the methods available to anyone who wants to be politically active. Some people are inclined to “up” these minimums by direct engagement with or as elected officials. So if one is not inclined to vote, contribute or serve, that individual should hold his/her peace. I see 2012 as a very important year for the nation and a prime opportunity for political expression through voting and monetary contribution.
Decisions at each level affect every level, from the individual to the presidential. While a form letter or direct communication with a congressional representative may have direct consequence on a particular issue, the strategic deployment of lobbyists and AIA staff members working across multiple jurisdictions and legislative agenda leads to consensus or smart compromise. As an individual, I cannot accomplish much across political parties or beyond state lines, but I realize PAC funding can accomplish far more than I am able.
If we don’t care about federal decision making – from policy to funding prioritization – how can we care about anything?
Do you have any additional words that you would like to express to AIA members about getting politically involved?
After voting, financial contributions to local, regional or national PACs (or specific candidates) is the easiest way to be politically involved; it is easier to fund a cause than to actually be the one advancing the cause. As I am immersed in design work, it is only appropriate to allocate a portion of my individual resources to that which I believe, whether for on-the-ground work of non-profits or for the charged work of political analysts and lobbyists. Whether one cares to make the admission or not, design is political. A responsible architect will design a personal process (product or career) that is accountable to the polis.
Lonnie Hoogeboom, AIA, is Director of Planning & Design and employed by Central Houston, Inc., established in 1983 as 501(c)(6) non-profit business league, and the Houston Downtown Management District, created in 1995 under Chapter 375 of the Local Government Code and later codified as Chapter 3801 of the Texas Special District Code.