For many people in California, Ted Grose is among the most prominent professionals in the state’s mortgage industry. With more than three decades of experience in his field, Grose founded, co-founded or led four real estate finance companies. He currently runs Los Angeles-based 1st Mortgage Advisors Inc. and has also served as statewide president of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP) and as a board member of NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals.
Now, Grose is becoming a notable new face in the world of California politics. He recently made his entry into this arena by seeking election to the State Assembly from California’s 62nd Assembly District, which includes the prominent Los Angeles County communities of El Segundo, Gardena, Inglewood, Marina del Rey and Venice Beach.
Relatively, a few mortgage professionals have found their way into elected office. However, California voters have a history of voting for people from eclectic professional backgrounds, ranging from a Hollywood action hero to a San Francisco madam, to Cher’s ex-husband. But are they ready to give Ted Grose, the mortgage professional, the respect that he has earned after years in the mortgage field?
National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently had the opportunity to chat with Ted about his entry into the political world and what has led him to his interest in politics.
Your first foray into politics resulted in being part of the ballot line-up for the June 3 primary. How did that turn out?
Ted Grose: I won the primary. It’s pretty huge and pretty miraculous. I’m a registered Republican and my district is 61 percent Democrat. The hand of God was in it, quite frankly.
In addition to possible divine intervention, what was your campaign strategy?
By flying low, staying under the radar and targeting voters. It was also a mid-term election, where the turnout is low. This was an open primary, with the top two vote-getters winning the race. There were six opponents in the Democratic Party, and they were basically running against each other.
Did you come in first or second?
I came in second.
When and why did you decide to seek elected office?
I started thinking about running a year ago. The way California has been working is through single party control, essentially since 1970. There is not a lot of dialogue on issues … it is a monologue. I felt that everyone needs to have a voice at the table, but the state was turning into a one-party state.
But hasn’t California elected several Republicans–including a couple of prominent movie stars–to become governor?
Yes, and California has also given the country a couple of Republican presidents. But the legislature, where the laws are made, has been controlled by the Democrats. With the exception of 1995 and 1996, the legislature has pretty much been controlled by one party.
So why did you decide to become the person to change the equation?
I thought to myself, if not me, then who? Everything in the world begins with "me."
What platform did your campaign focus on?
I focused primarily on jobs, education and community. The state legislature should get out of parenting and stick to the foundational issues.
What about housing? California has seen a lot of tumult in its housing market … from the evaporation of affordable housing, to the eminent domain controversy.
Jobs drive the housing market. In order to create jobs, we need to make sure that young people have an education that gives them the skill-sets that match the job market.
A critical factor to a healthy home market is financial literacy. When someone comes out of school, they should know how credit cards work, how to balance a checkbook, and how to do a stick figure budget.
What kind of jobs are you eager to generate?
We need to look at what kind of talent we’re importing from overseas and provide incentives for young people to be directed toward those fields. I feel that we should also build up community colleges—not only as a channel to the university system, but also for the vocational system. And when I refer to vocational, I am not talking about being a basic welder. Sophisticated, high-tech, specialty welding is now required in many industries.
How did your background in the mortgage world help shape your campaign?
I discussed sustainable homeownership. The recession we are presumably coming out of right now was very much the making of a broken financial system that encouraged homeownership churning, but not long-term, healthy and sustainable homeownership. When we were in the bubble and everyone was speculating on their neighbors’ houses and money was essentially free … that was not a healthy housing market.
Are you still running your firm, 1st Mortgage Advisors?
I have put my business on hold, pending the results in November. If elected, I don’t plan to shut it down–there are a couple of brokers in the community who have expressed interest in opening up a dialogue.
Very few mortgage professionals have sought out elected office. Why do you feel that your peers have not thrown their hats into the political ring?
The piece of the mortgage business I am from is in the mortgage broker space. That is traditionally a very, very labor intensive–usually a small business. Most mortgage brokers don’t have ability to put business aside to go on vacation or to be philanthropist or engage in the political system.
How are your chances for getting elected in November?
I have a very fair chance of getting elected. However, if elected, I will have 79 other people to work with. I am not a party ideologue–I am open to conversation with any point of view. I believe in opinions based on information, rather than advancing an agenda.
At the risk of being flippant, would a seat in the State Assembly be a stepping stone to bigger opportunities? Maybe in Congress or even the White House?
The White House? No! I wouldn’t live long enough for that!
Still, this must be quite an experience for you.
So far, doors have been opening for me that were totally unexpected.
Editor’s note: According to the Web site, Around the Capitol, the primary results for the 62nd California Assembly District found Autumn Burke scoring 41.2 percent of the vote to Ted Grose’s 20 percent. Third place finisher Gloria Gray snagged 16.6 percent of the vote. However, Grose’s second place finish was a triumph of targeted campaigning over extravagant financing. Burke spent $184,463 on her campaign, while Grose spent only $12,801. In stark comparison to Grose, fourth place finisher Simona Farrice invested $167,063 into her losing campaign.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]