A look at Nico Tsatsoulis, candidate for the Cook County Assessor

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A look at Nico Tsatsoulis, Fritz Kaegi’s libertarian challenger for Cook County Assessor: Today’s Juice, by Greg Hinz

It’s been more than a quarter of a century, back at the height of what was then the GOP government. Jim Thompson’s reign, as anyone without a (D) after their name was taken seriously as a candidate for statewide office in the heavily Democratic Cook County.

However, that doesn’t mean these candidates aren’t worth listening to. So, here’s an update on what one of the candidates is saying this cycle, for better or for worse. That’s Libertarian Party hopeful Nico Tsatsoulis challenging Democratic incumbent Fritz Kaegi as an assessor in Cook County.

Tsatsoulis currently resides in Hyde Park. He says he’s “worked in finance, retail and wholesale, and real estate both in Chicago and abroad,” most recently in Greece.

RELATED: Buckle up for another wave of property tax hikes

Though Republicans didn’t get their own in the election, Tsatsoulis, who describes himself as “an angry citizen,” is definitely on the fiscally conservative side. Its core platform is to cut property taxes and then keep them low.

In particular, Tsatsoulis would base the estimates on the sale price and generally freeze the value of a home or office building at the last sale price for tax purposes until it is sold again. This is a version of California’s controversial Proposition 13 that has caused much controversy on all sides over the years but is still in effect.

Tsatsoulis’ website notes that if a property hasn’t changed hands in more than 10 years, he would tweak the California model a little and bring in outside appraisers to determine a new value.

The candidate would also limit any appraisal increase to a maximum of 2% per year and limit liability to 1% of the market value of the property. He acknowledges that it would put pressure on local governments and schools in particular, but claims the county’s total annual property tax levy of $16 billion “is unsustainable and threatens the health of the tax base.”

As a reviewer, his job is to advocate for spending cuts, Tsatsoulis said in an email. “Why else choose the assessor?” he asked. “The district could just hire a reputable appraiser.”

RELATED: Crain’s Real Estate Forum: A Conversation with Fritz Kaegi

Tsatsoulis has also gone straight to the heart of what Kagei has done, shifting the tax burden from what he describes as overtaxed residential real estate to commercial categories. All it has done is create a lot of work for property tax appeal attorneys, Tsatsoulis said, a form of “institutionalized corruption.”

The libertarian hopeful would push things further. He would repeal Cook County’s unique valuation system, in which commercial real estate is taxed at two and a half times the rate of residential real estate. It’s particularly hurting businesses on the South and West Sides, he claims, areas that don’t have the cachet and can’t collect the rent that downtown office towers can.

There’s more, but check out his website for yourself.

If Kaegi replies, I’ll forward it.

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