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Cook County Assessor: Forrest Claypool


Political affiliation: Independent

City: Chicago

Marital status: Married

Occupation/Firm name: Cook County Commisssioner/Executive Rise Health

Campaign HQ address: 2835 N Sheffield Ave, Suite 240, Chicago IL 60657

Campaign website: www.forrestclaypool.com

What is your campaign budget- We seek to raise several million dollars

What are your top priorities for the office-

We need to make sure property in Cook County is assessed fairly and accurately. In decades past, this office had been used as the, "bagman for the Machine," as one political commentator put it succinctly. We cannot go back to those times. Taxpayers in Cook County will not be well served by Mr. Berrios, whose reputation of pay-to-play is unmatched by any other political candidate in Cook County.

I'll end pay to play in the Assessor's office by refusing campaign contributions from attorneys who practice before the agency.

I also believe the Assessor's office can be used as an advocate for fair tax policies that would benefit all voters in Cook County.

Do you support the 10/25 assessment re-classification that went into effect last year-

Yes. It creates greater transparency by bringing statutory assessment levels in line with the historical reality, and is consistent with statute and the Illinois Constitution.

Should seniors have to apply every year for the senior exemption, as required under a law that takes effect next year-

No, and it is sad that a political feud by House Speaker Michael Madigan resulted in legislation that is patently unfair to Cook County seniors. A qualified senior under the exemption will not cease being a senior and there is no need to have them re-apply every year for this exemption.

The average foreclosure sale is 45 percent of estimated market value. How should foreclosures be factored into the assessments of residential property-

The foreclosure crisis overshadows the real estate market throughout Cook County. In some neighborhoods, its impact has been devastating. The assessment process should take into account a foreclosure's impact on not only the value of the foreclosed property, but also on the properties near it. A house on a block filled with boarded-up houses is going to be worth less than a similar house on a block without any foreclosures.

The Assessor's office has already tweaked the formula, last year adding variables for houses on blocks and in neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates. I would fine-tune it by looking at how close a property is to a foreclosed property; also, I think we need to consider including distressed sales, (eg., foreclosure sales) in determining market values. In some neighborhoods, foreclosure sales are the whole market.

Do you support the caps in the most recent revision of the so-called "7 percent solution- " Should the 7 percent solution be made permanent without caps-

I support the stability provided by the 7 percent cap and believe that we must make our property tax system stable for businesses and homeowners. The complaint I hear most often from small businesses owners is the large fluctuation in property taxes bills. I believe we need some system that ensures stability and predictability in assessments, while still allowing for a gradual recognition of valuation increases.

Should assessments be done annually instead of every three years to keep assessments up to date-

Our current system is unable to process the additional workload from an annual assessment. However, modernizing, consolidating, and streamlining the process may provide us with the sufficient resources to do an annual assessment.

What would you do about building permits that are not reported to the assessor's office-

First, it is incumbent upon the assessor's office to make the process for builders to inform the assessor's office of improvements to property as easy and streamlined as possible. This might involve centralizing the process for all townships in Cook County and increasing penalties for lack of compliance.

Would you take political contributions from law firms that represent businesses- I do not in this campaign and will not as Assessor.

If elected or re-elected, would you prohibit members of your government staff from contributing to your campaign- Explain.

Yes, Illinois has a sordid history of abusing public servants for campaign contribution.

What ethics measures have you sponsored or voted for in the past- If elected or re-elected, what new ethics reforms would you support-

Throughout my career, I have supported or passed more than 40 individual pieces of legislation at the County Board including whistle blower protections, campaign contribution limits for Cook County contractors, and increased disclosure and prohibitions on lobbying activity. As Assessor, I will not accept contributions from property tax attorneys.

List your educational background

B.S. Journalism, Southern Illinois University

J.D, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Please list civic, professional, fraternal or other organizations to which you belong

I served on the board of the Open Lands Project; also previously served on the board of CYCLE, a tutoring organization for Cabrini-Green public housing children.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government-

Commissioner of the Cook County Board, 12th district 2002-present. Superintendent of Chicago Park District (1993-1998); deputy state treasurer (1991-1993); chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley (1989-91; 1998-99); deputy commissioner, Cook County Board of (Tax) Appeals (now Board of Review) (1982-83).

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government

None.

Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed

Richard Dennis -- $150,000

Richard Driehaus -- $150,000

Timothy Mullen -- $50,000

Joe Mansueto -- $50,000

Two Party System PAC -- $25,000

Please paste a brief biography here

Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, 52, is the former Superintendent of the Chicago Park District, a $400 million agency with 3,200 employees. He has also served as deputy state treasurer, deputy commissioner of the Cook County Board of (Property Tax) Appeals, and Chief of Staff to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

As a two-term county commissioner, Forrest has led the fight against the Stroger tax increases; passed whistleblower legislation to ferret out fraud, and an ordinance requiring disclosure of hidden interests in government contracts; funding to help expand the county's child advocacy center for abused kids; and new dollars for Access to Care, an organization serving the health care needs of the working poor. In 2004, Senator-elect Barack Obama appointed Forrest chairman of his transition committee to the United States Senate.

Forrest is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois College of Law, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the law review. He resides in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and three children.

As parks chief, Forrest transformed an agency described as "dysfunctional" by the Civic Federation, a "string of ghost towns" by the Chicago Tribune, and "a patronage system for employees, not citizens" by Friends of the Parks. Forrest wiped out large budget deficits, restored park facilities after decades of neglect, and dismantled a vast patronage empire - resulting in lower property taxes even as record amounts of money were invested in neighborhood parks. Forrest put 100 police officers on park beats and developed award-winning after-school programs for kids.

As a two-term county commissioner, Forrest has led the fight against the Stroger tax increases; passed whistleblower legislation to ferret out fraud, and an ordinance requiring disclosure of hidden interests in government contracts; funding to help expand the county's child advocacy center for abused kids; and new dollars for Access to Care, an organization serving the health care needs of the working poor. In 2004, Senator-elect Barack Obama appointed Forrest chairman of his transition committee to the United States Senate.

Forrest is a graduate of Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois College of Law, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the law review. He resides in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and three children. #Comments_Container, #Comments_Container1,#commentsonly,.StoryInteract{display:none;}

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