Town board to choose new Evanston Township assessor

Sharon Eckersall

Source: Coldwell Banker

Sharon Eckersall

Kimberly Railey, Managing Editor

Following the death of the incoming Evanston Township assessor last week, town board members may select a replacement as early as next month, according to a city official.

Under the state’s property tax code, the town board — made up of the city’s aldermen — can contract with or appoint someone to assume the position in January, when assessor-elect Sharon Eckersall was slated to take office. Eckersall, 69, was found dead in her home Sept. 11, five months after she won the assessor election. Police have opened a death investigation but do not suspect foul play.

The current township assessor, Bonnie Wilson, will serve her term out until the end of this year. No timeline has been set on finding her successor, but board members will likely act in late October or November, city clerk Rodney Greene said.

In a memo last week, city attorney Grant Farrar said the state’s property tax code requires the successor complete the required coursework for the job and present a certificate indicating his or her qualifications.

Evanston residents can offer recommendations to the board, but all candidates must meet those requirements, Greene said.

“You cannot even be considered until you can show you have the qualifications,” he said.

The search for a new assessor comes as the future of the Evanston Township is unclear.

In August, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that allows aldermen to put a binding referendum question on the election ballot asking voters to dissolve the township. In March, voters favored eliminating the township by a 2-to-1 margin in an advisory referendum.

The Evanston Township Assessor’s Office helps city taxpayers with property tax-related matters, including applying for exemptions and filing tax appeals.

If the township were abolished, officials say the city would absorb all of its services. That possibility is not affecting the process to choose a new township assessor, citizen engagement manager Erika Storlie said.

“As of today, we have a township, and we will continue to operate as a town board and make sure that township responsibilities are occurring as they are supposed to,” she said.

Eckersall, a veteran real estate agent and lifelong North Shore resident, ran unopposed in the assessor election in April. She previously served in the position for three terms, losing to Wilson in 2009. Wilson declined to run for re-election in the spring, clearing the path for Eckersall to recover her former job.

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