Terra Jensen: Candidate Profile
Grafton Township Assessor (4-year Term) (Independent)
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Grafton Township Assessor (4-year Term)
Family: Significant Other: Denny / Daughter: Brooklynn
Occupation: Deputy Assessor for Elgin Township
Bachelor Degree from Easter Illinois University / Certified Illinois Assessing Official
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: None.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Fair Distribution of the tax burden amongst taxpayers. Establish and implement a uniform and equitable system for valuing properties while adhering to the Illinois Property Tax Code. Coordinate with neighboring assessors to ensure uniformed assessments within areas divided between townships and counties
Key Issue 2
More efficient use of taxpayers' dollars. Workload can be reduced and costs can be cut by reducing the number of appeals generated each year. More efficient office practices with the integration of current technology
Key Issue 3
Educating residents on the property tax cycle and assessment process. Encourage residents to discuss assessments at the township level and explain assessed values to property owners. Defend appealed assessments at public hearings
Name the three most important goals or objectives this board should tackle in the coming term. Prioritize them, and briefly discuss why you believe each to be critical, and how the board should go about addressing them.
I stated above in the 3 main campaign issue questions my goals and objectives that need to be addressed within the assessor's office during the next term. Therefore, below is my hopes as a taxpayer and elected official for the original question.)
Integrity, Accountability, and Transparency
Acting in the best interests of Grafton Township should be the primary duty of any member of the board. Not only should it be an ethical duty, but above all else, a legal duty. Trustees should act in a manner that is consistent with the development and well-being of Grafton Township -- not for themselves, their family and friends, or any other outside interest. Therefore, when making decisions and carrying out their duties, a trustee must consider whether their act is in the best interest of the residents within the township. The trustees should cooperatively and respectfully work together to fulfill their commitments to the residents of Grafton Township.
Grafton Township needs a Board of Trustees that will counsel township entities to operate within their means, encourage using financial resources wisely and make financial decisions in an open and transparent way.
Trustee members should possess detailed knowledge of current statutes and also a fundamental understanding of rules and procedures. Trustees should have a sense of direction for Grafton Township so the policies remain consistent with the overall focus and purpose for the township.
In the 21st Century, with municipalities gobbling up vacant land, why are townships needed? Should they be serving a new role? If so, what?
Grafton Township should = Efficient. Effective. Accountable. Accessible.
I consider Grafton Township to be an important defense ground for citizenship, local engagement, and community service. The township is not only held accountable for maintaining roadways, but also for assessing property and administering general assistance to the underprivileged. These three responsibilities are undeniably vital to ensure that our townships is successful in the way we run and in the services we provide. These accountabilities are unique in the fact that the township's response to the people is exceptionally prompt and resources are readily available. Township officials live in the community they serve and therefore can stay in touch with ever changing needs. I believe this adds a certain quality of closeness with the people so that residents feel protected and taken care of within Grafton Township.
The above belief stands even truer within the assessor's office at the township. The township assessor is lawfully responsible for determining the value of all real property within the township boundaries. The greater the proficiency of the assessor, the more equitable the taxes paid by the property owners. Because a majority of the money the community needs for operating is derived from property tax bills, it is essential the assessments are placed on property at the township level to ensure accuracy, uniformity and consistency. In addition, the assessor's office provides a wide range of information and devotion not otherwise available or accessible at the county or state level.
What should be the primary responsibility of township government?
In addition to the general responsibilities expected by the township, I believe Grafton ought to embody the values of "grassroots government" and encourage residents to contribute their talents, skills and ideas to preserve the quality of essential programs and services offered.
In these hard economic times, can you identify some township expenses/programs that could be trimmed or eliminated to reduce the tax burden?
At this point in time, Grafton Township's legal bills is the number one expense that needs to be eliminated in order to restore funding to the township to provide the services expected by the residents. Limited by law in the amount of taxes a township can levy, township officials should be creative in delivering quality services with the least possible burden to taxpayers.
What specific background or experience do you bring that makes you the best qualified candidate to serve as an elected official in the township?
Bachelor's Degree from Easter Illinois University
Certified Illinois Assessing Official
Deputy Assessor for Elgin Township
Work in a township that encumbers 34,000+ parcels
Extensive experience in assessing single, multi and commercial properties
Proficient with Visual PAMSPro Property Assessment Management System, the same program utilized in the Grafton office
Assessment appeal experience at the Board of Review and PTAB level
Knowledge of and assist with an assortment of exemptions
I am a positive and hardworking professional with strong work ethics who always strives to achieve the highest standard possible. As the Deputy Assessor for Elgin Township, I have participated in all aspects of an assessment office and am very familiar with the innumerable dealings of the office on a daily basis.
Because of the economic changes and declining market, Grafton Township needs a renewed official to restore fair and equitable assessments within Grafton Township. I am a concerned homeowner who works with assessments every day and wants the opportunity to utilize my experience and qualifications to benefit the township I reside in. I feel this is a very important election for Grafton Township. I promise to change the current destruction of the valuation process and restore fair and equitable assessments while saving the taxpayers time and money.