Petitioners prevail in Austin Board of Realtors election


Seven newly elected members campaigned for more transparency; changes in policies, bylaws

Terms take effect Jan. 1

The Austin Board of Realtors will begin 2018 with seven newly elected directors who all campaigned on a platform of greater transparency for the 13,000-member organization.

The seven new directors, whose terms start Jan. 1, include Austin real estate agents Cord Shiflet and Brian Talley, who the board had ousted on Aug. 2. In published reports, board CEO Paul Hilgers said they breached their fiduciary duty – an allegation Shiflet and Talley have said was untrue.

Talley said the election was a “landslide,” and Shiflet on Facebook said “the petitioners had a clean sweep and won all the seats available” on a board he has contended has long needed an overhaul with new blood and policy changes.

“I’m incredibly excited,” Shiflet wrote. “Sounds like some changes are needed and I’m glad to see they’re coming. I’m excited to give my time and see if we can make a difference.”

In a written statement, the Austin Board of Realtors said: “As our 2018 election cycle comes to a close, we are eager to move forward. Both the members of our current board of directors and the incoming board members in 2018 are and will remain committed to delivering the services, technologies and tools that build our members’ businesses and improve the lives of Central Texas families. This is an important time for our organization, and we will continue rely on the input and support of our members as we chart our future together.”

The removal of Shiflet and Talley from the agency’s board ignited a public airing of grievances by Shiflet, Talley and several other members, including Realty Austin co-founder Jonathan Boatwright.

For more than two months, the members wrote about their dispute with the board on a Facebook page called Austin Agents for Change. Among the group’s claims was that that the board members were serving their own interests over those of the members.

Boatwright and Shiflet filed a lawsuit against the board, aiming to have this month’s election include seven open seats – including those vacated by Shiflet and Talley — instead of only five seats that the board contended were open.

A state district judge ruled in favor of Shiflet and Boatwright earlier this month.

The election results were announced late Tuesday afternoon.

Shiflet, Talley and Boatwright were among eight ABoR members who ran for the seven open seats. Seven of the eight were elected, with the other new directors being Boatwright, Charlotte Lipscomb, Ryan Rodenbeck, John Crowe and Anne Wheeler.

Crowe and Wheeler were elected to fill the partial terms vacated after Shiflet and Talley were removed, while the other five were elected to serve full terms.

None of the five candidates put forth by ABoR’s nominating committee were elected.

On Monday, the board announced Hilgers would be resigning as CEO effective Dec. 31.

“The membership spoke decisively about their desires for transparency and a member-controlled board,” Talley said after the election results were announced. “It’s a landslide for the petitioners. Now we will roll up our sleeves and work with the other members to clean up the policies, procedures and bylaws to protect the members and our clients and to ensure transparency and member-friendly policies.”

Dan Byrne, the Austin lawyer who sued ABoR on behalf of Shiflet and Boatwright, said the lawsuit has been settled and will be dismissed Wednesday.

“We reached an agreement on how the election would be handled, they helped pay our clients’ legal fees, and mutual releases were exchanged,” Byrne said. “We are pleased to have these disputes behind us.”

In an email to the American-Statesman, Cathy Coneway, a past president of ABoR, said the newly elected directors “will need the support of our entire membership” to face the challenges ahead.

“This board makes very impactful and important decisions that influence the entire organization,” said Coneway, who is with Stanberry & Associates. “Their leadership will require a lot of time, dedication and compassion to reverse the turmoil that this election has brought to the members of this association. That can happen if they bring all the stakeholders to the table and have candid conversations on how they will move this organization forward in the future.”

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