Chicago Sun-Times
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Forrest Claypool tells why he is jumping in assessors's race. Transcript

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updated with filing date from Cook County Clerk's office..

I just saw your post about Claypool entering the assessor race. http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2010/04/forrest_claypool_tells_why_he.html

Please know the deadline to file petitions is June 21, not June 22.
Sincerely,


Courtney Greve
Senior Public Information Officer
Cook County Clerk's Office

Below, Claypool release.....

Claypool calls on voters to "declare their independence" from insider deals that raise property taxes
Independent candidate will be first County Assessor to refuse contributions from clout-heavy property tax lawyers


Chicago, IL - Speaking today at the Hotel Allegro with neighborhood leaders and activists from across Cook County, Commissioner Forrest Claypool declared his candidacy for Cook County Assessor.

"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.

Claypool will seek the ballot as an Independent, requiring him to assemble 25,000 signatures from Cook County's 2.9 million voters by June 22nd. Claypool, a proven reformer who has battled insiders in Cook County government before, pledged to bring true Independence to the office of Assessor by refusing campaign contributions from lawyers who make their living filing property tax appeals.


"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 stated.

Claypool clearly laid out the case for why voters will support his independent candidacy. He called out Berrios for his support of policies and politics that are squeezing the taxpayers of Cook County.

"Not only did he fail to support the seven-percent assessment cap, but Berrios has shifted millions of dollars in property taxes from big businesses onto the backs of average homeowners," said Claypool

"He's in the pocket of the special interests, and that's affecting our pocketbooks."

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.

He was first elected to the 12th district of the Cook County Board in 2002 by standing up for taxpayers and taking on an incumbent commissioner who practiced the same insider politics that voters have grown tired of in Cook County.

On the county board, he fought against tax increases levied by both the late John Stroger and current board president Todd Stroger. He was instrumental in passing whistleblower legislation to ferret out fraud and an ordinance requiring disclosure of hidden interests in government contracts.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:



Thank you for coming here today.

Across Cook County, people and families are suffering the effects of the economic recession. Thousands of our neighbors have lost their jobs, their healthcare, even their retirement savings.

To add insult to injury, residents of Cook County are burdened with skyrocketing property taxes that make it increasingly difficult to stay in their homes.

The Cook County Assessor can be a key ally of hard-pressed residents and home-owners by using his power to work for a fairer and more transparent tax system. And for the past decade, we've been fortunate to have such an ally in Jim Houlihan.

Among his other efforts, Assessor Houlihan has championed the seven-percent assessment cap, which protected homeowners from huge jumps in their property taxes. The 7% cap is similar to the Save Our Homes ordinance that I introduced at the same time in the Cook County board.

The cap saved taxpayers millions of dollars. But the General Assembly allowed that cap to expire. When property tax bills are issued later this year, homeowners will suffer the consequences.

After years of effective and progressive public service, Jim Houlihan has decided to retire from office. The Democratic nominee to replace him, Joe Berrios, represents a clear threat to homeowners and senior citizens across Cook County. Those of us who care about reform and tax fairness cannot sit by and allow him to take control of this office.

The Better Government Association has called Berrios, quote, pay-to-play personified. Not only did he fail to support the seven-percent assessment cap, but Berrios has shifted millions of dollars in property taxes from big businesses onto the backs of average homeowners.

He's in the pocket of the special interests, and that's affecting our pocketbooks.

As a longtime member of the Cook County Board of Review, and as chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, Berrios has taken millions in campaign money from the law firms that file tax appeals before the very board that he sits on.

In return, Berrios has given tax breaks worth hundreds of millions to the businesses those law firms represent. And county residents without clout or connections have made up the difference.

It's a cozy little arrangement. And it's all too typical of a government of, by and for the insiders.

Despite all his campaign money and political connections, Berrios received only 39 percent of the vote in the recent Democratic primary for Assessor - just barely enough to win a three-person race.

Normally, that would be the end of the story. County Republicans have put up a nominee for Assessor who is unknown and underfunded.

But 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.

And that's why, today, I'm announcing an independent candidacy for Cook County Assessor.

You see, I have a very different view of government from that of Mr. Berrios and his clout-heavy supporters. I believe government should work for the taxpayers - not the other way around.

As head of the Chicago Park District, I cut more than a thousand patronage jobs, eliminated a huge budget deficit, and restored hundreds of neighborhood parks that had long been neglected. I left after five years with property taxes for the parks lower than when I started.

As a Cook County Commissioner, I introduced an ordinance to cap property tax assessment hikes. I led the fight against Todd Stroger's friends and family hiring practices. And I consistently spoke and voted against his ill-conceived county sales tax hike.

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.

Now, I know this campaign won't be easy - and I just made it harder. Joe Berrios will have more money. He'll have the precinct organizations. But I'll have some-thing more important: support from thousands of taxpayers across this county who are tired of playing second-fiddle to those with clout and connections.

I'm running to give Cook County voters a choice. You can declare your independence from politics as usual - but only if you're willing to do your part in this campaign.

I'll need your help to collect the signatures to get my name on the ballot.

I'll need your help to raise the money to run an effective campaign.

I'll need your help to battle the mud and smears that will be directed my way.

But with your help, I know we can win.

This November, we can declare independence from the politics of the past.

We can send a powerful message that we're not going to take it anymore.

We can vote to end insider politics and put taxpayers first for a change.

Thank you.

--30--

3 Comments

Michael Madigan has to make a career choice, he either can be a lawyer for the connected real estate interests in the State of Illinois or he can be the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.
He cannot be both!

I will always support our comissoner ,Claypool from Janet

I had the extreme privilege of working with Forrest Claypool when he was the Chief of Staff for Mayor Daley and found him to be forthright and honest. I personally feel that he would make an excellent Cook County Assessor to the serve the citizens of Cook County. I personally encourage everyone who wants their property taxes capped and lowered to vote for Forrest. He will work hard for us, the average-Jim citizen. Thank you!

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 6, 2010 11:18 AM.

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