Endorsement: Kaegi for Democrats as Cook County assessor
Fritz Kaegi has not made a lot of friends in high places during his single term as Cook County assessor.
But he has been a friend of residential property tax payers. During his campaign for the office in 2018, Kaegi concentrated on reform that would more accurately reflect valuations of commercial property to help bring more balance between the contributions of residential and commercial tax payers. And, he has pursued that mission steadfastly in the face of significant opposition from big business and a general lack of cooperation from the county Board of Review.
His work is far from over. Hundreds of large county commercial interests remain to be reassessed in the coming years, and residential property tax payers should shudder to consider what will happen to their own assessments if the movement Kaegi has begun is derailed.
Of course, it is true that commercial interests pass along their higher tax costs to their customers, and indeed some have seen extremely high increases under Kaegi's watch. Nor have residential property tax payers skated through reassessments entirely unscathed.
But the issue is fairness, and Kaegi seems determined to press for it in the face of significant opposition.
He's challenged in the primary by the president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Kari K. Steele. Steele is no leadership lightweight, and she offers complaints to suggest she's disappointed that Kaegi hasn't made more progress than he has toward the kind of balance he talks about.
But we're not convinced that experience running the MWRD translates naturally to management of a tax assessor's office or that Steele has the intent or the resolve to continue the mission Kaegi has started.
We'd like to see the one-term assessor get another four-year shot toward more progress. Kaegi gets our endorsement.