Cook County Assessor candidate Fritz Kaegi on Thursday poked fun at the penchant of Joe Berrios — his opponent in the upcoming Democratic primary — for hiring relatives.
Kaegi ticked off the names and ages of his children: William,10, Rose, 9, Anna, 7.
He noted that their latest unofficial titles while running around his Oak Park home are “co-campaign manager, my co-co-campaign manager and my assistant campaign manager.”
“That said, I can assure that none of them will be drawing a salary when I’m assessor,” Kaegi joked during an address to the City Club of Chicago, a nonpartisan group that hosts forums and debates, at a downtown Maggiano’s restaurant.
During a brief chat with reporters after the event, Kaegi said the Shakman-exempt political appointees Berrios hired, including family members, will be fired if he wins office.
The jobs of other workers will be safe.
“We’ve heard there are very talented people on the civil service side and I have limited ability to fire them, I don’t have the right to do that,” he said.
“But the Shakman exempt (employees) — we’ll bring in a whole new team,” Kaegi said.
“We need to eliminate nepotism and cronyism in hiring and bring in a professional, ethics workforce that reflects the diversity of Cook County,” he said.
Kaegi has promised to completely revamp in a transparent fashion a property tax assessment system that’s under Berrios has financially benefited the rich and harmed the county’s less fortunate, especially in minority neighborhoods.
“When I defeat Joe Berrios on March 20, it will send a message to machine politicians throughout Cook County and Illinois who seek to use government offices to benefit themselves and their family and their business: People are watching and they won’t be duped. Fairness, transparency and integrity are not too much to ask of our elected officials.”
Should Kaegi win, he’ll take office in December, but changes in property tax bills will not be immediate.
“Most people getting there property tax bill in 2019, it will have been calculated under Joe Berrios’ systems. So the full effect of what we’re having on the assessments will be seen in the bills that people get in 2020,” he said.
Early voting has begun and election day is March 20.