About the Candidate

Name: Tammy Wendt
DOB: Aug. 29, 1970
Occupation: Attorney
Political Experience: Successful candidate in the March primary for this race
Website: supporttammy.com
Twitter: @TammyWendtBOR

Candidate Statement

Hi there! I am Tammy Wendt and I am the Democratic Candidate for Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review.

Did you know that Cook County has the highest property taxes in the COUNTRY? This is what’s driving people out of Cook County.

This situation has been magnified by COVID-19 and the lack of response to its impact on property tax assessments.

If elected, I am committed to addressing these issues and finding tax relief for my

In addition to being able to file your appeal online, I plan to make myself and my staff available to taxpayers through ZOOM and other on-line portals in order to give a voice to taxpayers who are currently shut-out from discussing their real-life problems with the current system.

I will NOT be a rubber stamp for the assessor.

The Board of Review MUST remain an independent check and balance system on the Assessor's office, giving a CLOSER look at each unique property.

My opponent, Dan Patlak, has not answered the call of his constituents and relies on a Chief of Staff who is unqualified to serve Cook County taxpayers.

As an attorney with over 20 years of real estate law experience, I will bring a more professional, practical and objective point of view to the appeal process.

I also would be the FIRST female Democrat EVER to be elected to the Board of Review, and only the 2nd female in the 81 year history of this agency.

The Board is long overdue for diversity in its leadership.

Every property owner should know there is an advocate for them on the government side of the tax business.

After all, we are funded by the taxpayers of this county!

Please remember to vote for me, Tammy Wendt, on November 3rd or early voting for Commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review.

Thank you.

Candidate Q&A

Why are you running?

At a time when this county is literally teetering on the edge of a financial collapse, the Board of Review (“BOR”) needs serious policy changes, and I will advocate for such changes. I have been a practicing attorney for 20 years. I have been in the real estate field for nearly 30  years. I owned and ran a property tax appeals practice for several years and I am also a licensed real estate broker. I will bring professionalism and a law degree to the BOR, something my opponent cannot. The BOR is a quasi-judicial office, and the Illinois Supreme Court has held that it is the practice of law to appear before the BOR. Because the Board is often asked to rule on any number of legal issues including (but not limited to) uniformity in taxation, exemptions, classifications, qualifications in expertise, etc., it only makes sense that the Commissioners  have the appropriate legal background to make credible findings. While two of the  Commissioners have law degrees, my opponent Dan Patlak does not. Accordingly, because the  position requires the ability to interpret statutes and rulings from the Illinois Courts, my legal education and training will provide better insight in the tax appeal process.

Additionally, my opponents refusal to commit to any one policy or strategy in dealing with COVID and rampant vacancies means that there will be inconsistency and uncertainty for every taxpayer in the County. I will ensure that the assessor is not over-assessing properties as he  has been. I will ensure that the Board of Review is doing its job in being the check and balance on the assessor and that the Board of Review remains completely independent from the  Assessor. I will ensure fairness and uniformity in the midst of the most devastating pandemic in 100 years. Drastic times call for drastic measures and we need an aggressive proactive  approach, that we are not getting from my opponent, to avoid a stampede out of town. If businesses that are relatively vacant since March are forced to pay a real estate tax that was based upon full occupancy and an uninterrupted revenue stream, they cannot survive. If we  lose a significant number of commercial properties it will have a devastating impact on tax rates  for homeowners. We are already seeing the mass exodus of businesses and homeowners.

What is your vision for this office?

My vision for this office is to bring more transparency and awareness to the taxpayers about the Board of Review. Most people do not know what the Board of Review does despite its importance. Voters need to be made aware that there are three commissioners at the Board of Review and those three commissioners can grant all or none of the appeals that come before them. Thus, it is extremely important that voters know who they are electing. I will also make it easier for homeowners to appeal their taxes by proposing virtual hearings. This will allow for homeowners to forego traveling downtown and waiting hours for a hearing, and allow for them to conduct a hearing via zoom or another avenue, from the safety and security of their own home. With COVID-19 now a part of our reality, virtual hearings are a common sense approach  to preventing exposure to the virus for homeowners. I will also implement appeal forms be made  available to taxpayers in the many different languages spoken in this County. Finally, I would  propose disaster relief in light of the current pandemic that has financially ruined so many lives and businesses. I would work with the other two Commissioners on this issue. 

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?

The feedback I’ve received from close to 100 taxpayers and practitioners voice a common concern of unpredictability and inconsistency in the Board of Review. Both want to have a better understanding of Board of Review policies with respect to uniformity decisions, vacancy issues, and some of the variables involved in the income analyses, which are relevant in valuing most leased commercial properties. Like any legal problem, there has to be support  for every finding and every opinion, so it seems a request for more information from a taxpayer or practitioner is a reasonable request entitled to a reasonable response, and not just denying an appeal outright. I would train my staff to be responsive in this regard. The success or failure  of any appeal before the Board of Review shouldn’t “hinge” on the “luck of the draw.” While no  one should expect identical results from every analyst, there should be consistency in policy and  reasoning. If vacancy relief is available to anyone, then it should be available to everyone. There shouldn’t be a forum-shopping scenario, but this is what we are seeing with Dan Patlak and his staff.

Below is a quote from the Board of Review:

"Last year the Board granted reductions to 56% of the commercial  cases and 56% of the residential cases. We also granted reductions   to 56% of the cases filed without attorneys and 53% to those with attorneys."

During the times of Commissioner Maureen Murphy, the last and only elected female commissioner EVER at the Board of Review in the 81 years it has been in existence, individuals who appealed without an attorney were successful 73% of the time. By the Board’s own admission, that success rate has dropped 30% while Patlak has been in office. The 1st District represents mainly residential properties. The drop in relief granted to residential owners in suburban Cook County is troubling and contributes to the flight of homeowners out of Cook County. I want to change this trend and give more relief to taxpayers, especially in this season of COVID, when so many are really suffering.