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updated: 10/20/2010 5:13 PM

Cook County assessor: Claypool

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Daily Herald Editorial Board

If Cook County voters want to take back their government from insiders and the political status quo, the assessor's race could be the most important vote they cast. It's the office that decides how much a home and all other property is worth for taxing purposes.

We unequivocally endorse independent Forrest Claypool. A Cook County Board commissioner, Claypool is not afraid to take on the status quo, has a proven record of managing public offices, is committed to fair, transparent assessments, and has vowed to make ethics a priority.

He has three opponents, two of whom have excellent credentials Republican Sharon Strobek-Eckersall and the Green Party's Robert Grota, yet do not have the political experience essential for this office. The fourth candidate is Democrat Joseph Berrios, a Board of Review member, head of the county Democratic Party and a lobbyist who worked to get video gambling OK'd for neighborhood taverns, clubs and restaurants.

Berrios is unapologetic about hiring relatives and about taking thousands in donations from tax attorneys who appear before him seeking assessment reductions for huge commercial properties. He defends his actions, saying he has never been charged with a crime on the Board of Review. It's a gutter-level standard that only voters have the power to reject for the assessor's office. It is vital that an independent, ethics-minded person

Claypool become assessor, one of the most powerful county offices, where it's determined whether the property tax system is fair and equitable or a tool for those with clout and money.