8 election contests to watch in the Northwest suburbs
Requests for sizable tax hikes for schools and fire districts, a heated contest marked by fliers showing one candidate doing a keg stand, and a county race pitting a Democratic Party leader versus a competitive newcomer are among the election outcomes to watch in the Northwest suburbs Tuesday.
Here's a look at the hottest races and the tax hike proposals voters will decide when they go to the polls.
Voters will choose between embattled incumbent Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios and two challengers -- first time candidate Fritz Kaegi, an asset manager from Oak Park, and Chicago resident Andrea Raila, a property tax analyst.
Kaegi has criticized Berrios' campaign contributions from attorneys who handle property assessment challenges. He's also said it's "grotesque" that about 25 percent of valuations under Berrios' administration typically have drawn appeals.
Berrios says he's been turning around the office. Elected in 2010, Berrios contended appeals are a reflection of property owners exercising their legal rights and that his office often helps residents contest valuations.
Raila, who was ruled off the ballot then last Wednesday reinstated by the Appellate Court, also questioned why there are so many property assessment appeals and said she would work to reduce the need. She said Berrios' office makes square footage errors and that the job should be done right the first time.
No Republicans are on the primary ballot.
District 57 tax hike
Voters in Mount Prospect Elementary School District 57 will decide whether to approve a significant tax increase. For a resident with a homeowner exemption, the tax hike could cost more than $450 a year for a typical $300,000 home. Similar homeowners with a senior exemption would pay an extra $250.
School leaders say the district's tax rate is by far lower than neighboring districts. At the same time, class sizes are the highest while administrative costs and teacher pay are the lowest, they say.
If the referendum fails, the district will eliminate art and music programs, shorten school days, continue employee and teacher cuts and increase class sizes up to 40 students in some schools, officials say.
53rd House District
Both Republican candidates running for state Rep. David Harris' seat label themselves as conservative and disagree with Harris' vote last year to approve a 32 percent income tax increase.
Eddie Corrigan, of Arlington Heights, says he still sides with Harris overall, calling him an "excellent" public servant. Corrigan, the outreach coordinator for U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, is backed by the House Republican Organization.
Katie Miller, a registered nurse from Mount Prospect, entered the GOP primary after Harris' tax vote. She is endorsed by conservative talk show host Dan Proft's Liberty Principles PAC, which sent pro-Miller campaign mailers featuring photos of Corrigan in college doing keg stands.
The winner will face Democrat Mark Walker, who previously held the seat.
27th Senate District
State senate candidates Ann Gillespie and Joe Sonnefeldt are emphasizing their backgrounds ahead of the Democratic primary contest for the 27th District because not much separates them when it comes to the issues.
Sonnefeldt, of Mount Prospect, is a professional musician and president of the Mount Prospect Elementary District 57 school board.
Gillespie, of Arlington Heights, is an attorney, retired business executive with CVS Caremark, and organizer of efforts supporting Cook County's minimum wage and sick leave ordinances through the group We The People.
Gillespie has received the backing of several elected Democrats, which led Sonnefeldt to criticize her as "the choice of the Springfield insiders."
The winner will face Republican incumbent Tom Rooney.
56th House District
Though united by a desire to defeat four-term Democratic incumbent Michelle Mussman in the fall, the 56th District's GOP primary rivals Charlotte Kegarise and Jillian Rose Bernas are divided by differing opinions of their independence and ability to win in November.
Bernas, 35, is a first-term trustee of the Schaumburg Township District Library who's already faced and lost to Mussman once before. But she said the 2016 campaign showed momentum in closing Mussman's margin of victory.
Kegarise, 65, said her 24 years of service on the Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 school board has helped her forge community connections capable of rivaling Mussman's.
59th House District
With incumbent Carol Sente not seeking reelection, the traditionally Democratic 59th District, which includes large sections of Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, Wheeling and Vernon Hills in central Lake and northern Cook counties, is up for grabs with challenges for the nomination in both parties.
Democrat Dan Didech, a Buffalo Grove resident and municipal attorney who was elected Vernon Township supervisor last year, has Sente's endorsement and heavy party financial support. His opponent, Lake Forest attorney Susan Malter, left the Cook County state's attorney's office to found a not-for-profit to help children of at-risk families in high-crime Chicago neighborhoods.
The Republican race pits Lincolnshire residents Karen Feldman, a veteran village trustee, against Marko Sukovic, a graduating senior at the University of Illinois. Both say they want to make Illinois more business friendly.
Bartlett fire tax hike
The tax bill for residents in the Bartlett Fire Protection District would increase on average about $100 if voters approve the increase.
A similar proposal failed last year. This time, the fire district had a more aggressive education campaign, identifying specific cuts if the hike fails.
They include reducing the number of firefighters per shift and closing one of the district's three stations on a rotating basis. Those changes could cause fire insurance premiums to increase, officials said.
Prospect Hts. fire tax
A Prospect Heights Fire Protection District a property tax hike would allow it to avoid staff and service cuts, but cost the average taxpayer an extra $34 a year.
The tax increase would help maintain fire services and offset large losses in property values over the past decade, officials say.
The fire district has cut about $500,000 in personnel the past five years. Further cuts would likely cause an increase in fire insurance premiums, officials said.
• Daily Herald reporters Chacour Koop, Eric Peterson, Christopher Placek and Bob Susnjara contributed to this story.