Green Party Candidate for Cook County Assessor Robert C. Grota
Being a 3rd party candidate is tough enough, but when you are a candidate for the office of Assessor it seems it can be even tougher. With 40% of residents of Cook County being renters and not home owners (via ULI Chicago), many residents simply don’t know all of what the Assessor does. Mr. Grota really breaks down what he wants to do and how he plans to do it.
I learned a lot while researching the position and Mr. Grota’s canditicy. If you have the chance after reading the interview please vist the Cook County Assessor’s Office web site to learn more about this important position.
Again thank you to Mr. Grota for allowing me the oppertunity to interview him and spread the message of another great 3rd party candidate.
Can you give us a quick autobiography of Robert C. Grota?
I am 46 years old, born in Milwaukee, WI. I grew up in the suburban Milwaukee area where hard work and honesty are revered. When I was 14, my father let me earn my allowance by helping him measure houses on the weekends for his township assessor job. I learned all about measuring and construction of houses and various farm buildings. When I graduated High School in 1981, I went into the US Army for 6 years and was a vehicle mechanic (from jeeps to tanks). After I got out, I attended college and received 2 degrees. 1 in Accounting and another in Business Management. After college I joind the family assessment business, where I worked for the next 15 years. I learned everything from measuring houses, retail, offices, manufacturing facilities and mines to mapping, valuation of all properties and advanced computer modeling for assessment purposes. I developed the most popular Assessment software used today in Wisconsin. In 2006 I moved to Chicago. I have worked at the Cook County Assessors office since July of 2008.
What made you join your party rather than one of the two major parties or another 3rd party?
I joined the Green party because it believes in ethical and honest government to serve the people, values that reflect my own. The 2 major parties, Democrats and Republicans, in the Chicago area seem to be self serving politicians for the sake of politics and gain for its own members only. The people who they represent are not of concern to them and their agenda. I believe government is there to serve the people, not people to serve the government.
What is your biggest hurdle going into the election as a 3rd party
The biggest hurdle I see in the upcoming election, as a third party candidate, is that voters don’t see you as a real contender, able to take on the established parties. Voters tend to stay with what they know. If they usually vote for one party, then if they don’t know the 3rd party candidate, they will not look into his platform or ideas and vote the same party they always have.
Voters have a responsibility to vote for the best candidate for the job, not the party the candidate belongs to. They need to learn who the candidates are, what values they have and what their plans are for office. Only in this way can we elect real leaders who will be honest and ethical.
What can be done here to end the distrust in politicians and political
system in this state and get Illinoisans to the polls?
By researching and voting for the most qualified candidates, voters will elect who they want. If voters continue to vote on blind faith to their party, we will continue to get the scandal, corruption and insincere politicians as ineffectual leaders. Its up to the people of this state to rise above their own apathy, research the candidates and vote who they believe will do the best job. Only if this is done can effectual leaders be elected. If the people of Illinois continue to follow the 2 big parties like blind sheep, the situation will continue to worsen.
What is something you would like to accomplish if elected into office?
If I am elected Cook County Assessor, I would put in place honest and ethical valuations of property, based upon accurate property data. These valuations would be mailed with proof, substantiating the valuation to each property owner. Secondly, the appeals process needs to be reformed.
- Face to Face meetings between tax payers and assessment personnel so that the valuation process can be explained, new data presented and objections heard.
- The Board of Review needs to be overhauled so that only real, provable adjustments are made to assessments based upon accurate market data. Bribes, campaign contributions and other “pay for play” must be eliminated at both the Assessors Office and the Board of Review.
What can you do for Cook County residents that other candidates can’t?
I am the only cadidate that has the experience and knowledge required by the Assessors Office to perform the job. I have worked in several states, 8 different counties as an assessor and done all of the functions of the Assessor. I have developed Assessment software to perform the many functions of the Assessor in a time and cost efficient manner, resulting in reduced costs and time savings for tax payers. I have led a team of Assessors that valued more parcels (properties) than are in Cook County at a cost of about 1/20th of the current assessors budget. All of this with better customer service are what I offer the people of Cook County. Compare this with the other 2 candidates. The Democrat is known for corruption, “Pay for Play” politics and is a political pawn for Madigan.
He sees to it that both he and Madigan make big bucks off the system. Plus, if he is elected Assessor, he will head both the Assessors office and the Board of Review. Complete control of the valuations set for tax purposes. Do you trust him with your taxes? The Republican ran a small township assessors office in Evanston. There was discord with the employees in the small office and with the Mayor of Evanston. Do you think she can run an office with 400 +/- employees and the Cook County Board?
Do you feel the new 10/25 ordinance is working? Was the change necessary?
The new 10/25 ordinance is nothing new. The Assessors office has been using those levels of assessment for many years prior to the ordinance being passed. They are just being honest about it now. For many tax payers, it makes no difference. The value that really matters is the “Market Value” of the property. ‘Is the Market Value set correctly for each property’ is the question that each property owner needs to know the answer to. If every property is lowered to the same Assessment Level, the “Assessed Value” becomes meaningless. In fact, you can’t really appeal an Assessed Value. You can only prove the Market Value is not correct. That is the value that home owners can “prove” incorrect based upon similar houses recent Sales Prices. “Market Value” is the value that needs to be
reported to the tax payers.
Do you think the 7% EHE is enough in times like these, is there a way
to better assist families effected by the recession?
The 7% Extended Homeowners Exemption is set to be completely phased out in 2011. It was not a way to reduce taxes but a method of shifting tax dollars to other tax payers. The only REAL way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending by government. Of course the politicians don’t want you to know this because they feel they have more power the more money they spend. The truth is that, in todays government, much of the tax money collected is wasted. The only REAL way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending by government.
Do you think that the current exemptions for disabled veterans and
returning veterans are enough?
The exemptions for this are small compared to actual costs of returning from active military service. These exemptions should be increased to a maximum amount necessary to cover costs of defending the U.S. and returning to a productive life.
How do you feel about the “Religious Exemption?” Is it appropriate or does it cross the line of church and state?
The Religous Exemption is designed to exempt from taxation those organizations who provide services that would normally be provided by the state. The idea behind it is that if this service were not provided by churches, the state would need to provide the service at a cost to tax payers. Homeless shelters, food for the needy, employment counselling and training, providing relief in times of turmoil, etc. are provided by these institutions. The separation of church and state only means that the state cannot dictate what religion you just follow. It does not mean that the people of the state cannot practice religion, display religous figures (without predjudice) or be religous. This exemption is abused by many who take advantage of the system. A Minister living in a home is not a service the state would provide and should not receive an exemption for this. In other states, in order to receive a religous exemption, the property must be wholly owned and operated by the church, for religous purposes. No partial exemptions are granted.
I believe this exemption needs an overhaul to get it back to the original purpose.
Do you feel social media will have an impact on your campaign and how
do you plan on using it?
Social media is a big part of American life today. Many people get their news and information from the Internet and other social media outlets. I currently have a website < GrotaForCookCountyAssessor.com > and soon will be adding a facebook account to reach out to all of the voters who follow this media. Look for me in the future on facebook.
Is there anything else you think that people should know about you and
I am for responsible government. A government that makes sense to all of the people. Waste, hidden agenda, corruption and “Pay for Play” have no part in the office I seek. I need your vote to make this a reality!
How can those interested join your campaign?
Go to WWW.GrotaForCookCountyAssessor.com and find out more about me. From there you can contribute or take part in my campaign. I look forward to working with you and getting Cook County government under control and serving the needs of the people-not the politicians!