Martwick introduces bill to make county assessor an appointed position
by BRIAN NADIG
Legislation introduced on Feb. 15 by state Representative Robert Martwick (D-19) would make the Cook County assessor an appointed position instead of an elected one after the current 4-year term of Assessor Fritz Kaegi expires.
“It’s just a discussion point,” Martwick said of the legislation He added that the assessor’s office is not an ideological liberal versus conservative one. “I’m not against elected government, (look at) my elected Chicago school board bill, (but) it’s a technical office. It performs a very technical function, the valuation of property.”
Martwick said that the change would help take the politics out of the position and help eliminate the perception that campaign donations could influence the assessor’s decisions.
Kaegi has said that he will not accept campaign donations from property tax appeals attorneys who do business in the county and said during his campaign that elected officials should stop giving special treatment to the wealthy and politically connected.
Martwick, a tax attorney, was a supporter of former assessor Joseph Berrios in the 2018 Democratic primary, which Kaegi won.
Martwick said that his proposal is in line with the recent decision to merge the county clerk and recorder of deeds offices and that many counties, include nearby Lake, do not have an elected assessor position. Under the legislation, the county board president would appoint an assessor, who would have to go through the normal confirmation process.
Martwick said that while having an appointed assessor is no guarantee that the office would be free of political influences, it would move the assessor’s office a layer or two away from politics.
A spokesman for Kaegi’s office said that the assessor’s office had not seen a copy of the legislation and would have no immediate comment. Martwick said that he will be calling Kaegi to discuss his proposal.