Pritzker, Kaegi, Pappas secure reelection, property tax hike approved

Property tax hike for Cook County Forest Preserve also approved

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas (Getty, Facebook)
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas (Getty, Facebook)

Illinois voters signaled they’re pleased with the status quo, locking in three incumbents with influence over real estate policies to new terms on victories by large margins.

Most notably for real estate players, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi defeated Libertarian challenger Nico Tsatsoulis with 82 percent of the votes, while Gov. J.B. Pritzker cruised to reelection against Republican Darren Bailey, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported.

Pritzker’s first-term policies with real estate impacts earned praise in some circles while also drawing the ire of select landlords, with split opinions over his handling of an eviction moratorium and rental assistance disbursement during earlier phases of the pandemic.

“I am so thrilled to spend four more years as your governor,” Pritzker said shortly after the Associated Press called the race with him leading Bailey 55 percent to 42 percent. Bailey, who was endorsed by former President Trump but avoided discussing him during his campaign, conceded about 90 minutes later.

Kaegi sailed even smoother to victory last night as his would-be Republican challenger, Todd Thielmann, had been disqualified for voting in the June Democratic primary.

Kaegi took office in 2018 when he vowed to reform the office after eight years under former assessor Joe Berrios, who was ousted, in part, due to his not releasing assessment data. Kaegi sought to undo what he considered the Berrios administration’s overestimation of single-family homes in lower-income neighborhoods by shifting more of the county’s property tax burden onto commercial players.

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The changes have resulted in commercial property owners relying more heavily on winning appeals for lower valuations from the Board of Review, and have frustrated multifamily and retail buyers who locked in their deal prices and mortgages at assessments that were previously lower.

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas also won her reelection bid last night, securing a seat she has filled since 1998. Most recently, Pappas has pointed out issues with the county’s property tax system, including loopholes that have let some investors in delinquent taxes back out of deals through a system that has cost some local governments millions of dollars.

Voters also approved a property tax hike to give more funding to the Cook County Forest Preserve, which maintains open spaces and supports funding of cultural assets such as the Chicago Botanic Gardens and the Brookfield Zoo. With the tax increase approved, the maximum tax extension the preserve can issue increased to about $127 million from $85 million. It bumped the annual line item for the forest preserve on homeowners’ tax bills to about $7.29 for every $100,000 of value.

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— Victoria Pruitt