Former Bremen assessor wants to return to set things right
Grace Bardusk wants her chair back. The former Bremen Township assessor says since she left the post four years ago she has seen property taxes rising and residents receiving a lower level of service.
“We’re suffering a slow death because no one works together anymore,” Bardusk told the South Cook News. “The assessor’s office should be reaching out to all 13 communities, all municipalities to weigh the situation of each individual property owner to see what can be done to help them. We have residents that are paying more in property taxes than they are in principal and escrow.”
Bardusk says she knows what works because she’s done it all before. Besides having previously served as township assessor, she is a licensed real estate agent and was taxpayer advocate of Oak Forest.
“Four years ago, I had an open-door policy,” she said. “My office provided comparable information about other properties to our constituents, so when they asked for an appeal they had facts to support their case. We listened to people and went above and beyond. None of that is being done now.”
Bardusk sees it as a leadership problem: She claims her opponent, current Assessor Willie Jones, works for the township on a part-time basis and is rarely in the office.
“Every situation is not the same across the board,” she said. “But all they do now is take your information and have you sign off to start the process. There’s no research done to help you or advise you at all.”
Bardusk insists the Bremen Families First slate of candidates of which she is a part is determined to relieve some of the pressure on taxpayers.
“When the recession came, people here lost big because we had a lot of entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Bardusk said. “Now all of that is gone, and all the burden is falling on residents because there’s not enough revenue.”
That's why Bardusk thinks her approach is more important than ever.
“You have to respect the fact that every situation in unique,” she said. “Helping people means really listening to what they have to say and taking the time to do the research. It’s a lot of work, but I’m here for the people and not a career politician.”
Bardusk and the Bremen Families First party will be squaring off against three-term incumbent Township Supervisor Maggie Crotty's Bremen Tax Cut Party, which has been in power since 2005.
Bardusk and Crotty once worked side by side for the township until a dispute between them resulted in Crotty replacing Bardusk with Jones on the 2013 ticket.
While all might not be forgiven, Bardusk insists she has no time to dwell on the past when the future well-being of her community is at stake.
“I’m running again because I see a need for what I can offer,” she said. “I look at the way things are done in the assessor’s office now and the way they were done just four years ago and it’s shameful the way the residents are being shortchanged.”