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Claypool's Officially Running, Property Taxes are a Campaign Issue

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 7, 2010 3:20PM

Joe Berrios looking dapper in the Big Chair.
Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool made official his intention to run as an independent candidate for county assessor yesterday, bringing the obscure and byzantine world of property taxes front and center this election season. "Those of us who've been fighting for years to change Cook County government are not willing to stand by and concede this office to Joe Berrios and the insider politics he represents," said Claypool at the Hotel Allegro where he made his announcement. "If elected the independent assessor of Cook County, I'll continue to stand up for taxpayers - not big businesses or their clout-heavy law firms. I'll start by declaring my independence from the tax appeal lawyers who fund Joe Berrios. ... I pledge to you today: I will not take their money," he said.

Meanwhile, the delay in sending out tax bills to county homeowners was the subject of a heated dispute between retiring assessor Jim Houlihan and Joe Berrios, the Democratic candidate to replace Houlihan at the regular county board meeting. Houlihan charges that the delay in sending out the tax bills until after the election is politically motivated. Houlihan claims that Berrios is using his political clout to slow the Board of Review to prevent a tax revolt at the ballot box this November. Houlihan says his office will have all of the county's tax assessments ready on May 7, with plenty of time to get them out to property owners before the November elections. But Berrios says that he can't deter any taxpayers from appealing their assessments and therefore can't commit to a date to get the assessments out. With Claypool racing against time to get on the ballot and Houlihan fighting Berrios to get assessments in front of county taxpayers before the election, expect this to be an ongoing theme throughout the summer.