Michael Cabonargi: Commissioner, Cook County Board of Review, 2nd District

Note: Michael Cabonargi is a candidate on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election. This statement was recorded before the March 2016 primary.


WTTW’s 2016 Voters’ Guide to the General Election is an online resource designed to inform voters about the candidates running for office in the Nov. 8 election.

Candidates were given two minutes to tell voters where they stand on the issues, why they feel they are best qualified and what they intend to do if elected or re-elected. The messages were recorded at the WTTW studios at no cost to the candidates. The Voters’ Guide is an online version of Candidate Free Time, pioneered by WTTW in the 1992 race for U.S. Senate. This year’s Candidate Free Time is underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County and the City Club of Chicago.

About this office: Cook County Board of Review

The Cook County Board of Review is a three-member board, elected from three electoral districts, that hears and decides taxpayer complaints on assessed value or exempt status of real property in Cook County. In 2016, one commissioner each from two of the three districts will be elected.

Candidate Free Time is underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County and the City Club of ChicagoCandidate Free Time is underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County and the City Club of Chicago

About this candidate:

Name: Michael Cabonargi
Party: Democrat
Born: January 1971
Residence: Wilmette
Family: Married with two sons
Occupation: Attorney
Political experience:  I am the Commissioner of the Second District on the Cook County Board of Review. I was appointed in 2011 by Chief Judge Timothy Evans and elected to a full term by the voters in 2012. Previously, I was a senior attorney and prosecutor with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. I am a candidate for re-election on the March 15 primary ballot.

Website: cabonargi.com

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

As commissioner, I have worked to ensure homeowners and property owners receive a full and fair review of the assessed values of their property so they pay only their fair share in property taxes, while also guaranteeing schools and local communities receive these tax proceeds on time. To accomplish these goals, I’ve made the Board of Review more transparent, open, efficient and effective.

What is the most pressing issue facing Cook County, and how can you help address it?

The most pressing issue facing Cook County is the continuing need to ensure taxpayers pay only what is necessary to fund the most critical operations of Cook County government.

As Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review, I have worked to ensure homeowners and business owners pay only their fair share of property taxes. I’ve contacted more than 1.5 million residents and held more than 200 outreach sessions to educate homeowners and help them file appeals with the Board in their own neighborhoods. I have opened the Board to all communities by obtaining translations of the Board’s appeal forms into Spanish, Polish, Korean, Chinese and other languages spoken by Cook County residents. I have professionalized the staff of the Board of Review by hiring attorneys and real estate professionals on my staff to serve as analysts and hearing officers and creating an in-house training program. I have modernized the technology of the Board of Review.

In my first year as Commissioner, I led the development and implementation of the Board’s first online complaint system. By 2014, more than 86 percent of all appeals were filed online.

In 2015, the Board of Review launched a digital appeals processing system (DAPS), one of the most advanced technology projects undertaken by Cook County. DAPS re-engineered and digitized the appeal review process, saves money in employee overtime and physical rent and ultimately provides taxpayers a more efficient, complete and reliable review of their appeals.

I’ve done this while also ensuring schools and local governments receive the funds they need to operate when they need them.

Before I became Commissioner, Cook County mailed the tax bills late for 33 consecutive years. When Cook County does not deliver the property tax bills on time, then these bills are not paid in time for school districts that need these funds to pay teachers and open the classrooms in the fall. Schools are forced to go to banks for short term loans and other debt instruments and pay interest to the banks.

Since I became Commissioner in 2011, the property tax bills have gone out on time every year and school districts and local governments have been able to keep their money in the classroom and in the community.

Candidate Statement

Hello, I’m Michael Cabonargi, Chairman and Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review. I’m here to respectfully ask for your vote and support for re-election.

I’ve served as Commissioner since 2011. Previously, I was a senior attorney and federal prosecutor with the SEC. Earlier in my career, I served as an aide to United States Senators Paul Simon and Dick Durbin.

The Board of Review has a very important job: it gives Cook County residents the opportunity to appeal the assessed value of their homes. As your Commissioner, I’ve worked hard to ensure homeowners receive a full and fair review of the assessed values of their home so you pay only your fair share in property taxes and no more.

To accomplish these goals, I’ve made the Board of Review more open, transparent, efficient and effective. I’ve contacted more than 1.5 million residents and held more than 200 forums to educate homeowners and help them file their appeals in their own neighborhoods. I’ve opened the Board to all communities by obtaining translations of the Board’s appeal forms into Spanish, Polish, Korean, Chinese and other languages. And I’ve modernized the technology of the Board of Review. In my first year as Commissioner, we created the Board’s first online complaint system. By 2014, more than 86 percent of all appeals were filed online. Last year, the Board launched an all-electronic appeals processing system, that saves money, space and paper and provides taxpayers a better review of their appeals.

I’ve done this while also ensuring schools and local governments receive the funds they need to operate when they need them.

Before I became Commissioner, Cook County mailed the tax bills late for 33 consecutive years. Late tax bills are bad for families and communities. Schools are forced to pay interest to banks for short term loans, instead of investing this money in our children. Since I’ve been a Commissioner, the property tax bills have gone out on time every year and school districts and local governments have been able to keep your money in the classroom and in the community.

Once again, I’m Michael Cabonargi, Chairman of the Cook County Board of Review, asking you to punch 181 to vote for Michael Cabonargi for Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review. Thank you.

See more Cook County Board of Review candidates

Return to our 2016 Voters’ Guide to the General Election


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