Assessor candidate attacked over campaign signs

January 27, 2010 3:21:01 PM PST
A candidate in the Democratic race for Cook County assessor remains hospitalized after an incident involving someone who was stealing his campaign signs.Raymond Figueroa said he injured his hand while defending himself against the man in his front yard. He calls the incident a case of dirty politics.

The retired circuit clerk judge spent the night at Illinois Masonic Hospital. He's certain -- though he can't prove it-- that what happened to him goes beyond the normal horseplay of Chicago politics.

"I'm in politics to try and try to make people's lives better. There are going to be some lumps along the way," said Raymond Figueroa, (D) Candidate for Cook Co. Assessor.

Figueroa said he had just returned home from campaigning Tuesday at 7 p.m. when he saw a man in his late 30's slash signs of his and other candidates on his lawn. He said he asked the man to put down the signs. The man then punched him, he said, and Figueroa swung back. He thinks he caught the back of his hand on a corner of one of the signs.

"I would never, never in my wildest dreams find myself in a physical altercation regarding a sign. I've been in politics a good portion of my adult life," said Figueroa.

Figueroa is squaring off against Cook County Democratic Committeeman Joe Berrios and Dolton official Robert Shaw for the job of determining how much property tax residents pay. Figueroa said he's committed to ending what he calls pay-to-play practices that Berrios and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan perpetuate that keep commercial taxes low and individual property taxes high.

As 31st Ward alderman in the late 1980s, Figueroa supported Mayor Harold Washington in his fights with Ed Vrydolyak

"We have a history, Mr. Berrios was partial to the Vrydolyak 29 who were obstructionists and tried to do everything to block Harold Washington's programs," said Figueroa.

A spokesperson for the Berrios campaign said all they know is what is reported publicly. Berrios declined an on-camera interview and it is not clear if he will appear for a debate Thursday at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago.

The Shaw campaign did not return a call from ABC 7.

Chicago police are investigating. No arrests have been made.