[VIDEO] The two candidate for Evanston Township assessor clashed over performance and qualifications during a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters this afternoon.

While both candidates are long-time real estate agents and are certified by the state as assessing officers, incumbent Sharon Eckersall said her experience in the job and extra training classes make her better qualified.

Challenger Bonnie Wilson stressed the high cost to taxpayers of lawsuits filed by disgruntled former employees of the assessor. She said would do a better job of communicating with taxpayers and was open to abolishing the office — which critics say duplicates functions performed at the county level — if that’s what voters prefer.

Wilson said she has the support of all the city’s aldermen, while Eckersall noted that she was initially appointed to the job by the Mayor Lorraine Morton.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Assessor Forum
    The law suit filed by Diane Benjamin was caused directly by the Alderman in their attempt to limit my funds in the office. My budget is at $86,000, her salary was at $55,000 plus $5,000 retirement. The rent is $17,000, utilities $4,000, phone $3,000. There was not enough money to pay her salary, hence, the Alderman are responsible for the lawsuit through their budget cut— not the Assessor. The suit is up for dismissal this week.

    My opposition has stated in the flier that was passed out at the forum that she would be replacing the Deputy Assessor if elected….. another lawsuit?? Where will the money come from!!

  2. Assessor Forum
    It is unfortunate that my opponent has nothing to bring to the table for her campaign other than my law suits. I have explained the first two which are settled. I am not responsible for either one or the fees. Alderman Bernstein did not clean up his office before leaving to be elected Alderman, hence, I was left holding the bag.

    Diane’s lawsuit is unfortunate but there was no way to pay her and keep the office open. She literally got caught up in the game of politics.

    Experience is needed because one year from now, we will have another re-assessment. My term ends on Dec. 31, 2009 and we will be faced with 900-1,000 unhappy taxpayers at my door. This will be critical and
    experience from my ten years in office is what the taxpayers need.

  3. Assessor Budget
    There are 23 line items that make up the Assessor’s Budget. Anyone that would like a copy of my budget, I would be happy to e-mail it to them or post it.

    There is no room to cut anything.

    We are open 5 days a week from 8:30-4:30 (except today is a County holiday).

    If you have any questions, please call my office at:

    Like I said earlier, it is too bad that my candidate can’t post any qualifications to run for the office.

    She is trying to muddy the waters with negativity and not what really should be addressed—the welfare of the taxpayers.

    We are doing a superb job with the budget we have.

    Thanks for your support.

  4. Aldermanic Cuts In Township Assessor’s Budget Hurt Taxpayers
    In attending this Assessor’s Forum on Sunday, it was difficult to watch Ald. Tisdahl & Bernstein supporting their candidate for Assessor, Ms. Wilson before, during and after the forum. These are just 2 of the aldermen, along with the “Evanston Machine” listed as her endorsers, that have tried to create false issues in the Assessor’s race. Ald. Bernstein, Rainey, Tisdahl etc. ( as always staying mute, but showing her tacit approval by staying silent ) have hurt any taxpayers/citizens who use the Assessor’s services by drastically cutting the Assessor’s budget and then having the gall to have their puppet candidate, Ms. Wilson imply that the Assessor’s office is being run poorly. Isn’t it funny that I haven’t heard any citizen complaints about the office personally or a huge public outcry except from those in charge of the Township budget. Why this isn’t more reported and investigated in print and online about the ganging up on Ms. Eckersall by the Pioneer Press, Evanston Roundtable, Evanston Sentinel, Evanston Now, and Pioneerlocal.com, I don’t know. Mudslinging, personal attacks on fellow elected officials in public forums, denying the existence of a political machine, bullying etc.,etc. don’t stop at Howard Street. The old qoute: “that politics isn’t beanbag” sure remains true, however it’s painful to watch most of our elected officials in Evanston use Ms. Eckersall as a punching bag. Some do it verbally, some emotionally and some are complicit by their silence. Shame on all of you. Have an honest discussion about the issues, not the false issues you’ve created by your aldermanic choices to drastically cut the Assessor’s budget. As taxpaying citizens we deserve, to not be victimized and robbed of our Assessor services, just so you can put a more pliable “Evanston Machine” candidate in that you can
    control. As Ms. Wilson herself said,”if elected she would hire a deputy assessor”, is there a quid pro quo that us citizens should know about? Will voting for Ms. Wilson allow taxpayers to get more money in the Assessor’s budget to help during the worst real esate crisis since the 1930’s? Why did you cut the budget aldermen? Finally, it should be noted again that Ms. Eckersall is paid 6,000.00 per year before taxes. I don’t think there is a better value to the taxpayers in all of Cook County. She’s also made lemonade the best she can with the lemon budget she’s been given.

    Kevin O’Connor
    Citizen-Candidate For 7th Ward Alderman

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