Schaumburg Township seeking qualified appointee for assessor after Lawson moves to Huntley

The search is on for a qualified appointee to ultimately succeed longtime Schaumburg Township Assessor John Lawson, who's moved to a newly built home in Huntley.

The fact Lawson currently isn't a resident of Schaumburg Township but serving as its assessor is not a matter for the Illinois State Board of Elections, whose jurisdiction is candidates for office, board spokesman Matt Dietrich said.

The only issues relevant to the board are that Lawson was a resident at the time of the last election in 2021 and that the next candidates for the office in 2025 will be, he added.

Residency and replacement are more complicated issues for township assessors, who are required to possess specific academic certifications.

But in Cook County at least, it is the county assessor who is responsible for actually assessing property. Township assessors there exist to provide assistance with appeals and other services.

Lawson, who also is the police chief at Harper College in Palatine, was a member of the Roselle Police Department when he was appointed to succeed Paul Froehlich as Schaumburg Township assessor in the spring of 2004.

At the time, Lawson said he had to devote all of his vacation time for 18 months to attend classes needed to meet the assessor job's academic requirements.

Because those requirements were then new, he found himself sitting among people who already had been assessors as long as 25 years.

But even today, those classes are rare, small, and usually far away. Furthermore, they must be pursued at the personal expense of those who don't yet hold the office they're seeking.

Lawson spoke Friday of the reasons for his staying in office while the search for his successor is in progress.

"We worked very had when I took office to create a more easy way to appeal your assessment," he said. "We've done a lot. I just didn't want to turn it over to someone that might not have the same work ethic. That's why I said I would stay and not retire until the right certified candidate is in place."

One rule for replacing an elected township official midway through a term is that the appointee must belong to the same political party.

Because Lawson is a Republican, the task of nominating an appointee for the position falls to Schaumburg Township Republican Committeeman Joe Folisi.

"We have a few people who are interested and pursuing the courses," Folisi said.

A nominee ultimately would be presented by Schaumburg Township Supervisor Tim Heneghan - also a Republican - for an appointment vote by the four trustees who are all Democrats.

Meanwhile, day-to-day operations at the office are overseen by hired Chief Deputy Assessor Victor Morales.

The assessor's office also benefits from a relatively recent intergovernmental agreement with those in a couple of neighboring townships, Heneghan said.

If Lawson had resigned his position due to his relocation or for any other reason, the township would have a number of options that begin with finding a qualified resident.

But failing that, officials could hire a qualified nonresident as Barrington Township did in 2001. After no one ran for assessor there that year, officials hired Michael Rupnow who had just lost his reelection bid in Schaumburg Township.

For the time being, the current arrangement is working out for all concerned as the search for a future appointee continues, Heneghan said.

"We feel that we're in a good spot," he added. "No services are lacking."

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