During property tax season, one woman traverses through close to a dozen communities educating them on how to petition and challenge their assessments. For her tireless work to help the community as they sift through their frustrating property tax bills, Thornton Township Assessor Cassandra W. Holbert-Elston has been awarded Township Officials of Illinois Elected Official of the Year.
“Cassandra has always put serving the community as her most important priority. People contact her at all hours of the night and she serves with pleasure and I am happy that people are finally recognizing what we already know. She is incredible,” said Frank M. Zuccarelli, Thornton Township supervisor.
Elston, who has served as township assessor since 2013, represents our 17 distinct municipalities with a population of more than 168,000. The role requires a combination of intelligent, diligent work, years of experience and a heart as a community advocate. One of her key initiatives is hosting live, and this year virtual, property tax assessment workshops. She gives a presentation, answers residents’ questions and her team looks through resident tax assessment bills. She works with elected officials, clergy and homeowner associations.
Her office and staff have been available virtually to the public throughout the pandemic. She has hosted over 15 seminars yearly, even during the Covid-19 pandemic. The seminars are not just limited to property tax, exemptions and the appeal process. Information is also shared on property after death, property fraud and first-time home buyer programs. Even property redemption, for those who have lost homes, is among the topics discussed. More than 500 individual households have been helped by the assessor’s staff since mid-July.
Elston’s purpose in this effort has been to assist, educate and help taxpayers, new homeowners and especially senior citizens who have benefitted the most from her timely and compassionate guidance and assistance.
“I’m completely stunned by receiving this award. When you look to serve the community, especially if you are doing it for the right reasons, you certainly don’t do it for attention or awards,” said Elston. “But I am honored by the award and I will continue serving the community in any way it needs.”
Elston received recognition for youth mentoring from the late Alderman Bennett M. Stewart of the 21st Ward in Chicago. She was awarded the key to the City of Chicago for outstanding leadership and community involvement under the late Mayor Harold Washington. She was recognized for outstanding achievement in organizing block clubs and community organizations in the 6th Ward under the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer. She was also honored as “Woman of the Year” by the Society of Mannequins in 2017.
“I just feel so blessed to be able to help individuals and whole communities in need,” said Elston.