Illinois 2018 General Election Review

By Stephen S. Morrill, Principal of Morrill & Fiedler LLC (M&F)

The 2018 Illinois General Election was held earlier this month on Tuesday, November 6.  The anticipated “blue wave,” while not as impactful as originally predicted (at least in the U.S. Senate), still had a significant effect in Chicago, Cook County, and the surrounding Chicagoland suburban areas.  Voter turnout in Chicago and Cook County exceeded 55% of registered voters, and exit polls showed voters between the ages of 18-25 were the largest group of voters in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs – a first for a historically low-turnout population.  As in the 2018 primary election, DuPage County (and many other collar counties), saw a substantial increase in Democratic voter turnout.  This led to many Illinois GOP incumbents losing their re-election battles, while allowing the Democrats to sweep all statewide constitutional offices and increase their majorities in the Illinois House and Senate.

BOMA/Chicago members undoubtedly paid close attention to the 2018 state election, as legislative and regulatory activity profoundly impacts the commercial office industry.  With a host of tax- and energy-related proposals looming, this election produced the General Assembly that will confront a host of issues that may impact how commercial real estate is assessed for property tax purposes, how commercial office buildings shall be required to meet the life safety needs of tenants and the public, and how licensed commercial real estate professionals are best regulated.  With all that in mind, we review for the BOMA/Chicago community the results of the Illinois 2018 general election.

Race for Governor

In one of the most expensive gubernatorial races in U.S. history, Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker defeated first-term Governor Bruce Rauner 54%-39% to become the next Governor of Illinois.  In the following days, the Governor-elect has named a strongly bipartisan transition team including State Representative and Democratic Party of Illinois Executive Director Christian Mitchell, AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan, former Republican Governor Jim Edgar, and former Minority Leader Senator Christine Radogno.  Pritzker will be sworn in as the 43rd Governor of Illinois on January 14 of next year.  New leadership in all (or virtually all) executive branch agencies is expected to be appointed in the months to come.

Candidate Sam McCann, a former state Senator running as a member of the new Conservative Party very narrowly failed to reach 5% of the vote, a threshold which would have guaranteed Conservative Party candidates a spot on the ballot in future elections.  Kash Jackson, a Libertarian, received 2.4% of the vote.

Other Statewide Offices

The Attorney General race, widely reported in the weeks leading up to the election to be the closest of all statewide races, saw Senator Kwame Raoul defeat Republican candidate Erika Harold 54%-43%.

Secretary of State Jesse White (D-Chicago) handily won his sixth term as Illinois Secretary of State with 64% of the vote.

Incumbent Comptroller Susana Mendoza received almost 60% of the vote over Republican challenger and former state Representative Darlene Senger.  Shortly after the election, Mendoza announced a highly-anticipated Chicago mayoral candidacy, adding her name to the now 16-candidate race.  Should she fail to be elected as Mayor of Chicago, she will retain her position as State Comptroller; should she win that race, her replacement as Comptroller will be appointed by the Governor.  City of Chicago elections will be held this coming February.

Michael Frerichs was elected to his second term as state Treasurer with 57% of the vote over Republican candidate Jim Dodge (39%) and Libertarian candidate Mike Leheney (3.4%).

Overview of Contests for State Legislature

While the majority of legislative contests have been made official, there remain a few races that have not been called and election officials will continue to process ballots (absentee, vote-by-mail, and provisional).  Regardless of yet-to-be-called races, the Democrats managed to increase their majorities in both the Senate and the House.  When the new General Assembly, Governor, and state constitutional officers are sworn in in early January, Democrats will have control of all three branches of Illinois government.  Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Party of Illinois are credited for the high Democratic turnout seen in this election by placing strong focus on a vote-by-mail initiative, early voting messaging, and a “Get Out The Vote” campaign on election day.

The Illinois Senate Democrats, who previously held 37 seats to Republicans’ 22, increased their supermajority to 39 seats after flipping two Senate districts and defeating Republican incumbents Sen. Tom Rooney and Sen. Chris Nybo.  A third race, yet to be called, could see Republican Sen. Michael Connelly unseated by his Democratic opponent, further increasing the Senate Democrats’ veto-proof majority.  On Thursday, November 15, Sen. Nybo submitted his letter of resignation, effective immediately, indicating he will not return for the second week of veto session (November 27-29) or “lame duck” session in early January.

The House Democrats, who saw their supermajority slip away in the 2018 election, has regained a net of six seats (picking up seven seats while losing one).  This grows their caucus from 67 seats to 73, once again claiming a supermajority over House Republicans.  Republican members Peter Breen, Sheri Jesiel, Jerry Long, David Olsen, and Christine Winger were unseated by their Democratic challengers, while Democratic member Natalie Phelps-Finnie, appointed to replace Rep. Brandon Phelps upon his retirement, was defeated by Republican Patrick Windhorst.  Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago) will serve the remainder of his current legislative term before taking over as Deputy Governor in the Pritzker administration in January.

Two House races remain undecided. The race between recently-appointed Republican Rep. Helene Miller Walsh and her Democratic challenger Mary Edly-Allen, has grown increasingly tight.  As vote-by-mail and absentee voter ballots continue to be tallied, Rep. Miller-Walsh, who led on election night, has a deficit of just three votes as of this writing.   Incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Morrison, up for his 5th term in the House, has yet to claim victory over Democratic candidate Maggie Trevor.  Rep. Morrison leads his opponent by just 72 votes.

As both chambers enter the 101st General Assembly with Democratic majorities, it is expected that the same legislative leaders will be re-elected to lead their respective caucuses: House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington).

As earlier reported, the 2018 election cycle in Illinois saw a record number of state legislators who either resigned, lost a primary election, or announced retirement or candidacy for a different elected office.  This caused a significant increase in the number of competitive legislative races, and will usher in a General Assembly with almost a quarter of members arriving as freshmen legislators.

Because the policy decisions made in Springfield greatly impact the commercial office industry, BOMA/Chicago members have an ongoing interest in Illinois election outcomes.  Hopefully this discussion has provided insight into the 2018 Illinois election outcomes and future political landscape.

> Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog from Steve Morrill focused on what to expect in the Illinois General Assembly in the weeks and months ahead.

M&F has represented BOMA/Chicago before Illinois state government for many years and of counsel at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.  Also contributing to this article are Curt Fiedler, Gary Hannig, Chuck Hartke and Hannah Smith, Morrill’s colleagues at M&F.  

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BOMA/Chicago PAC: Gearing Up for the City’s Big Elections

By Ron Tabaczynski, Director of Government Affairs, BOMA/Chicago

Right now, Chicago is approaching an important election year in 2019.

Fortunately, BOMA/Chicago will be ready.

Through its political action committee (PAC), BOMA/Chicago supports political candidates who have demonstrated leadership and sound decision-making on issues affecting commercial real estate. It’s crucial for us to align with candidates who will further the success of our industry in Chicago.

We’re off to a great start, thanks to member contributions to our PAC. However, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal. We’re guided by our strategy to help get us there. It’s one that we stand firmly behind as it’s remained steadfast – and successful – over the years.

We want to be fully transparent to our members, so here is a look at our strategy and how we approach our PAC.

Focus on Locations

The idea that “all politics are local” certainly rings true at the City Council level.  Tradition and practice put great emphasis on working with the ward aldermen. From a strategic standpoint, we want to put increased emphasis on building and maintaining our relationships with aldermen who represent wards where we have member buildings.

For example, when we are contacted by a member for a constituent-type concern – such as loading zones, streets, alleys, permits – we will be dealing one of these three aldermen. Therefore, it’s important to zero in on these specific wards in Chicago with our PAC efforts.

Commitment to Committees

There are several city council committees that should be BOMA/Chicago members’ collective radar. The most important of which is the Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards committee. This one is most likely to deliberate on issues most important to us. In fact, we often speak before this committee. Other priority committees are certainly of interest to us and our members, but to a slightly lesser degree.

Carefully Evaluate

As we are still several months away from candidacy filings for the February 2019 election, we can only speculate which aldermen will have contests – unless a challenger publicly declares.

At this point, there is no way for us to determine the significance of any opposition to those incumbent aldermen. Some aldermen have announced that they will not seek reelection, but others may wait until the filing deadline approached.

Once the candidacy of incumbents and challengers begin to solidify, we will evaluate each race on a case-by-case basis and determine their importance. We will base our analysis on the following criteria.

  • Past support of BOMA/Chicago positions
  • Likelihood of reelection, along with nature and circumstance of current race
  • Committee chairmanships and membership
  • Geographic importance
  • Accessibility and willingness to discuss BOMA/Chicago positions
  • Overall effectiveness and influence among colleagues
  • The advantage/disadvantage of having a particular candidate win or lose
  • Relationship to overall advocacy strategy

Working together with our partners and lobbyists, we rank races into high, medium, low, and opportunity levels of contributions.

Despite our best efforts to evaluate, politics can be unpredictable. Every election, there are always rumors that occasionally turn out to be true, while others remain unfounded. Some races are consistent, while others remain very fluid up until petition challenges are decided, which can be a few weeks before the election. Usually races will emerge that turn out to be surprises, while others that were expected to be very competitive contests fail to materialize. This is simply the nature of politics and the election cycle.

Throughout it all, our strategy remains consistent – even in non-election years. During those years, we concentrate on maintaining the relationships with the aldermen from key wards, as well as the key city council committee leadership and members.

From a timing standpoint, many campaigns kick off in September, so expect to start hearing from challengers in the coming weeks.

Importance of Political Advocacy

A strong political action committee (PAC) is essential to safeguard the success of the industry. PAC donations enable BOMA/Chicago to participate directly in the political process by supporting officials and candidates committed to advancing the interests of commercial real estate and our advocacy agenda.  The BOMA/Chicago PAC was formed as a state PAC under Illinois law in 1997.  It does not make contributions to Federal candidates. Federal candidates are supported through BOMA International’s BOMAPAC.

Whether it is to support state, county or city candidates, or federal candidates through BOMAPAC, we still need our members’ help to support our advocacy efforts.  To make a contribution, click here to download and complete the contribution form or get in touch via email at


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Gold Circle Awards Profile: 2018 Property Management Professional of the Year Heather Holderman [Part 2 of 2]

Heather Holderman, General Manager with CBRE at 353 North Clark, was named BOMA/Chicago’s 2018 Property Management Professional of the Year.

< Read Part 1 of Heather Holderman’s Profile.


Over the last couple years, you’ve seen an increase in your building tenant survey score. Can you share any advice with other property managers about ways to improve tenant relations and overall satisfaction?

Cultivating relationships with tenants from the level of decision maker, facility manager and the administrative teams.  All these roles are critical to our success because each independently influence the perception of our service.  We maintain personal contact rather than solely communicating electronically, we strive for flexibility and make efforts to anticipate their needs or accommodate whenever possible.  Often it is the smaller gestures that don’t really have a financial impact that are the most memorable for a tenant.  We attempt to be a tenant’s partner in their business rather than a road block, and any services we can provide that makes them more efficient is a win for everyone involved.

Under your leadership, your tenants can take advantage of tenant amenities that include an art exhibition program, a newly refreshed fitness center and lobby, and a community fitness competition program. Can you share some predictions about new tenant amenities we’ll be seeing over the next ten or twenty years?

The amenity race will continue to evolve based on how occupants are utilizing their space and the type of culture they are looking to create at their places of business.  We see a lot of tenants looking to create a community within their corporate culture and a stronger emphasis on working in teams.  Programs that property managers can offer to promote a strong sense of community and be perceived as play or fun and are simplistic, are likely to continue to evolve.  It has been suggested that even a 10-minute work break playing ping pong with a colleague fosters more creativity.  This is fun for the employee and benefits the employer with greater productivity.

Additionally, any services that are easily accessible electronically via a cell phone application and prepared in advance or automatically to mitigate time waiting for services.  Some of these applications exist today such as food ordering apps, but similar applications from a building managed café or coffee kiosk as well as tailored delivery methods directly to the individual occupants.  Where these programs can be offered by building owners and managers, the overall perception of how the building is managed and the benefits it provides individual building occupants will be extremely positive.

What are some of the more innovative charitable initiatives you have sponsored at your building?

Some of our best recognition events have been in support of Earth Hour and Earth Day.  While all of the charitable organizations we support are intended to bring awareness, we have the unique opportunity to showcase all the inherent features of the building that directly impact the environment.  Our engineering team has constructed a model of the building with small pumps that demonstrates the infrastructure of the rain water harvesting system.  This is personal to our tenant base because they are learning about the physical features of the building they work in and it opens a dialogue for how they can contribute as individuals.  We also hosted an ice bucket challenge for one of our anchor tenants in support of one of their employees suffering from ALS.  We have also supported the Cystic Fibrosis foundation with practice stair climbs, which is a building wide effort and requires an intense amount of coordination to host a successful event.

What are some challenges you believe commercial building property managers should prepare for in the years ahead?

Densification and technology. The office layout with large perimeter offices dominating the window line are in the process of phase out.  Many office buildings were originally constructed to accommodate these historical layouts without considering new trends such as open ceilings for greater ceiling heights and sound attenuation.  Heating and cooling systems will be particularly challenged and demand for smaller spaces to conduct periodic confidential tasks or more formal meeting space will shift to the building owner to provide.  The infrastructure for an office building will also drastically change with less usable space allocated to house paper files or law libraries in exchange for digitized versions.  A robust tele/data system that is highly secured with redundancy will become a requirement.  Also, a shift to smarter buildings that operate with apps and that can “read” occupant behaviors.  For example, turnstiles that individually identify an occupant by their smart phone and grant access without swiping a badge or checking in, and upon registering that individual, preparing their respective work areas with task lighting and thermal comfort at varying times. Examples of personal touches such as utilizing GPS functions on cellular phones to determine individual’s proximity to the building and then automatically pre-ordering coffee from a building café that is prepared and paid for upon that individual’s arrival.  The coordination of such items without compromising core building functions will be a challenge to overcome.

Throughout your membership with BOMA/Chicago, what experiences stand out the most to you?

BOMA/Chicago is a strong advocate for issues impacting buildings owners and managers and it has been impressive to watch the success of that advocacy over the years.  I’m also impressed by the effort to engage in new initiatives such as MBCx and energy efficiency and educate members on methods that they may not have exposure to otherwise.  It is also comforting that I can rely on BOMA/Chicago to be a resource to matters affecting our industry.

What is your favorite BOMA/Chicago event and why?

The TOBY awards.  All of your colleagues, and perhaps even your competitors, gather in such a way that promotes goodwill and genuine camaraderie in the industry. It’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of other buildings and their team members and it serves as motivation to be the best you can be in your respective roles.

What piece of advice would you share with our Emerging Leaders?

Dedication and a strong work ethic.  These are two attributes that will never go out of style.  Even if the outcome isn’t optimal or the answer is incorrect, it is always recognized when someone gives 110%.  Demonstrating that you care and learn from experiences so that one continues to evolve, and more than anything, being passionate about what you do will ensure long term success.

Given all your accomplishments, is there anything else would you like to accomplish in your career that you haven’t done so far?  

I would like to have a greater awareness of how our foreign counterparts approach the industry and how their culture impacts how they do business.  Participation in committees through BOMA/Chicago or within my own organization are a future goal. I would also like to obtain the prestigious TOBY award for our building and team that works so hard each day and are very deserving.

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Illinois 2018 General Election Preview

By Stephen S. Morrill, Principal of Morrill & Fiedler LLC (M&F)
steve morrill cropped
Because the commercial office industry is profoundly impacted by legislative and regulatory activity at the state and local levels, BOMA/Chicago members and affiliates rightfully pay close attention to elections in Illinois.  This may be particularly true during the current election cycle, since it will produce a General Assembly that will inevitably address a host of tax-related issues in a state with significant budget challenges, together with various energy-related proposals from utility companies and others.  Also inevitably, Illinois lawmakers elected this November will confront a variety of proposals that may impact how commercial real estate is assessed for property tax purposes, how commercial office buildings shall be required to meet the life safety needs of tenants and the public, and how licensed commercial real estate professionals are best regulated, among other things.  With all that in mind, we preview for the BOMA/Chicago community the various races that will appear on the Illinois 2018 general election ballot.

Race for Governor

The two majority-party candidates are Governor Bruce Rauner (incumbent and Republican candidate) and J.B. Pritzker (Democratic candidate).  There are two minor-party candidates who will also be on the ballot: Kash Jackson of the Libertarian Party, and current Republican State Senator Sam McCann of the new Conservative Party.  The candidacy of Sam McCann is the result of: (a) a failed attempt by Governor Rauner to unseat McCann during his last primary election campaign for State Senate; (b) continued division within the conservative base of the GOP party after a divisive primary race between Governor Rauner and Rep. Jeanne Ives; and (c) financial support of labor unions to McCann to help siphon away conservative voters from Rauner in the November election.

The most recent independent poll, by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of Southern Illinois University, has Pritzker leading Rauner 49-27.  While various Democratic and Republican internal polls show somewhat closer margins, all known recent polling reflects a substantial lead for Pritzker.  Perhaps reflecting the “blue wave” predicted by many in the media during this Presidential midterm election, the Simon Institute shows a generic Democrat versus Republican preference statewide in Illinois of 49-27 (the same margin as the Pritzker-Rauner matchup), with obvious implications up and down the ballot.  The favorable environment for Pritzker is also reflected in campaign resources for the two self-funding candidates: the last contribution Rauner made to his own campaign fund was for $50 million on December 20, 2016; since that date, Pritzker has put over $146 million into his own account.  Of course, polls and other factors represent snap-shot views at moments in time in a fluid and ever-changing process, with the election still a month away.

Should the challenger Pritzker win the governorship, there will be new leadership in  all (or virtually all) executive branch agencies; should Governor Rauner win reelection, most senior agency personnel will remain in place, albeit with an inevitable infusion of new personnel in a second term.

Other Statewide Offices

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) surprised many in Illinois politics in deciding to step away from her role as Attorney General and not seek re-election in 2018.  The current election for Illinois Attorney General is between State Senator Kwame Raoul (Democratic candidate), Harvard Law School graduate and former Miss America winner Erika Harold (GOP candidate), and Bubba Harsy (Libertarian candidate).

Secretary of State Jesse White (D-Chicago) is seeking re-election to his sixth term as Illinois Secretary of State.  He is challenged by Jason Hellund (Republican candidate) and Scott Dutner (Libertarian candidate).

A former Representative of the Illinois House, and former Clerk of the City of Chicago, Illinois Comptroller Susanna Mendoza is finishing her first term as Comptroller. Mendoza is challenged by Republican candidate Darlene Senger and Libertarian candidate Claire Ball.

A former State Senator, Michael Frerichs is finishing his first term as Treasurer. He is being challenged by Republican candidate Jim Dodge and Libertarian candidate Mike Leheney.

In each of these statewide offices, recent polling shows significant leads for the Democratic candidates.

Overview of Contests for State Legislature

Democrats currently have the majority in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.  The Illinois Senate now has a Democratic super-majority with 37 Democratic members and 22 Republican members (36 votes are required to override a gubernatorial veto).  The Illinois House has 67 Democratic members and 51 Republican members (just four seats short of the 71 needed to override a gubernatorial veto).  Everyone expects continuing Democratic majorities after the 2018 general election, and every indication suggests that the same legislative leaders will hold power in the coming General Assembly: House Speaker Michael Madigan (D. Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D. Chicago), House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R. Western Springs), and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R. Bloomington).

The 2018 election cycle in Illinois has seen a record number of state legislators who have either resigned, lost a primary election, or announced retirement or candidacy for a different elected office – leading to a sizable increase in the number of competitive state legislative races.  Currently there are 34 state legislators (or almost 20% of the entire legislature) who will not be returning to legislative office when the 101st Illinois General Assembly takes office in January 2019.  The current list of “lame duck” and resigned legislators is as follows:

  • Sen. Ira Silverstein (D) – lost 2018 primary election
  • Rep. Dan Burke (D) – lost 2018 primary election
  • Rep. David Reis (R) – lost 2018 primary election
  • Sen. Kyle McCarter (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Sen. Tim Bivins (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Mike Fortner (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Bob Pritchard (R) – retirement/resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Chad Hays (R) – retirement/resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Patti Bellock (R) – retirement/resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Bill Mitchell (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Sen.  Bill Haine (D) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Steve Andersson (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Sarah Jiminez (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Carol Sente (D) – retirement in 2018
  • House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. John Cavaletto (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Sen. Pam Althoff (R) – retirement/resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Reggie Phillips (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Senate Majority Leader James Clayborne (D) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. Al Riley (D) – retirement in 2018
  • Rep. David Harris (R) – retirement in 2018
  • Sen. Sam McCann (R) – retirement in 2018 (third party candidate for Governor)
  • Rep. Cynthia Soto (D) – retirement in 2018
  • Sen. McConnaughay (R) – retirement/resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Nick Sauer (R) – resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Silvana Tabares – resigned in 2018; replacement appointed
  • Rep. Scott Drury (D) – lost primary for Attorney General
  • Rep. Laura Fine (D) – running for state Senate (Sen. Biss district)
  • Sen. Dan Biss (D) – lost primary for Governor
  • Rep. Brian Stewart (R) – running for state Senate seat (Sen. Bivins district)
  • Rep. Julianna Stratton (D) – running for Lt. Governor (running mate for JB Pritzker)
  • Rep. Litesa Wallace (D) – lost primary for Lt. Governor (running mate for Dan Biss)
  • Rep. Jeanne Ives (R) – lost primary for Governor; will not seek re-election to House

Note: if Sen. Raoul wins his race for Attorney General, he will give up his Senate seat.

Key State Legislative Races

Consistent with approval/disapproval polling numbers for President Trump in different regions of Illinois, Republicans hope to pick up legislative seats downstate (where Democrat incumbents are playing defense in relative Trump-favoring areas), while Democrats hope to pick up seats in the suburbs and collar counties (where Republican incumbents are playing defense in relative Trump-disfavoring areas).  Most observers predict a range of net outcomes from status quo to several-seat Democratic gains in each chamber.

National Offices

Neither of the U.S. Senators in Illinois are up for re-election this year; however, there are four competitive U.S. House races to watch:

  • Peter Roskam (R. IL-6) versus Democrat Sean Casten
  • Mike Bost (R. IL-12) versus Democrat Brendan Kelly
  • Rodney Davis (R. IL-13) versus Democrat Betsy Londrigan
  • Randy Hultgren (R. IL-14) versus Democrat Lauren Underwoo

While BOMA/Chicago focuses more attention on state and local governments rather than federal advocacy, our association supports the federal-related efforts of BOMA/International.  Among federal issues of current concern to the commercial office industry are ADA lawsuit reform, federal tax reform and capital gains taxation, infrastructure and preserving ENERGY STAR.

Upcoming Chicago Mayoral Race

The Office of Mayor of Chicago holds special political and governmental significance in Illinois, and the recent announcement by Rahm Emanuel that he will not seek reelection has helped produce a huge array of candidates and consume a great deal of media and public attention.  This non-partisan election takes place in February of 2019 (the first round, with an absolute majority needed to avoid a runoff between the top two finishers) and April of 2019 (the second round, if necessary).  Current announced candidates include:

  • Toni Preckwinkle, who is now running unopposed for reelection as Cook County Board President.
  • Bill Daley, former White House chief of staff and U.S. Commerce Secretary (under President Obama) and U.S. Commerce Secretary (under President Clinton; son and brother to former Chicago Mayors.
  • Gery Chico, former President of Chicago Board of Education.
  • Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Police Superintendent.
  • Lori Lightfoot, ex-Police Board President.
  • Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO.
  • Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court Clerk.
  • Willie Wilson, wealthy Chicago businessman and previous mayoral candidate.
  • Neal Sales-Griffin, tech entrepreneur.
  • Matthew Roney, pharmaceutical technician and DePaul student.
  • Troy LaRaviere, former CPS principal.
  • John Kozlar, lawyer and former City Council candidate.
  • Jeremiah Joyce Jr., lawyer.
  • Ja’Mal Green, community activist.
  • Amara Enyia, policy consultant.

With a late-November filing deadline, the ultimate field of candidates remains fluid.  Among those still expressing possible interest in running are:  Suzanna Mendoza, currently running for reelection as Illinois Comptroller, and Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago).

Cook County Board President Race

While Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle is running unopposed for reelection this November, she has already formally announced her campaign for Mayor of Chicago.  She will certainly be a top-tier mayoral candidate, and perhaps the favorite.  Should she be elected mayor, Preckwinkle would vacate her county office, which would be filled (either until the 2020 or 2022 election) by a sitting member of the 17-member Cook County Board.

Of particular interest to BOMA/Chicago at the county level, Democrat Frederick Kaegi will be elected Cook County Assessor this November, having defeated incumbent Joseph Berrios in the March primary election.


Because the policy decisions made in Springfield greatly impact the commercial office industry, BOMA/Chicago members have an ongoing interest in Illinois election outcomes.  Hopefully this discussion provided some insight into the 2018 Illinois political landscape and the races to watch this election cycle.

M&F has represented BOMA/Chicago before Illinois state government for many years and of counsel at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.  Also contributing to this article are Curt Fiedler, Gary Hannig, Chuck Hartke and Hannah Smith, Morrill’s colleagues at M&F.  

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Five Reasons to Invest in the RPA/FMA Designation Program

By Nancy Capadona, RPA, General Manager at The Hearn Company

I earned my Real Property Administrator (RPA) about 25 years ago after I was encouraged by my supervisor to take the designation classes. The comprehensive RPA coursework accelerated my understanding of property management and allowed me to immediately use strategies to increase the value of my building. That’s why I encourage all my employees and the emerging leaders of the industry to earn the RPA/FMA (Facilities Management Administrator) designation.

Likewise, the next generation of professionals needs the support of today’s managers to unlock the full potential of the designation experience and career possibilities. Below are five reasons why I believe building owners, asset managers and property managers should invest in their team and budget for RPA/FMA classes for the upcoming year.

Improve job performance: Students will immediately apply classroom knowledge within their own buildings. They will reinforce that knowledge through conversations and deeper questions with team members, engineers, security staff and tenants. This will lead to employees seeing the “entire picture” and excelling in their job. In fact, a recent Building Owners and Managers Institute International (BOMI) study of graduates found that 97 percent of graduates agree the RPA and FMA programs improved their job performance and overall career.

Reduce operational expenses: Graduates are empowered with proper and strategic decision-making skills, equipping them with knowledge of how to increase the value of their building. A recent study of graduates showed that 72 percent of graduates experienced a decrease in monthly operating expenses after completing the courses.

Add a mark of distinction: Earning an RPA or FMA designation is a mark of distinction not only for the employees who earn them, but also for the companies make the investment. Demonstrating that an individual is committed to the commercial real estate industry and able to apply tactics to operate properties at peak performance reflects positively on the employee, the property management company and the building.

Benefit from outside expertise: Students can participate in a mentorship program, where they are paired with a senior-level professional who earned the RPA/FMA designation. This will create another outlet for industry knowledge to be shared, and an opportunity for employees to learn new ideas and apply innovative strategies.

Offset designation costs: RPA/FMA courses may be reimbursable as building operating expenses under tenant leases. Many of these costs are also reimbursable under typical property management agreements.

The RPA/FMA designations offer a comprehensive curriculum that focuses on all aspects of commercial real estate management. The eight classes cover: Budgeting & Accounting, Investment & Finance, Building Systems Part I and Part II, Law & Risk, Ethics, Environmental Health & Safety and one elective Electives include Asset Management, Leasing and Marketing for Property Managers, and Managing the Organization.

The total cost of all eight classes and the enrollment fee is $9,200 – a small investment that reaps large benefits. If your building is not able to pay for classes, then your staff members may be eligible for the needs-based Full Designation Scholarship. Click here to learn more.

BOMA/Chicago is offering five live classes in 2019. Click here to view the full course calendar.

Nancy Capadona is a member of BOMA/Chicago’s Board of Directors and Education Committee.




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Demystifying the State Street SSA and its Impact on BOMA/Chicago Buildings

By Amy Masters, BOMA/Chicago Director of Marketing and Communications

If you received email promotions over the summer for ACTivate networking events hosted by the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), you may have wondered … what is the CLA? What does this group do? Does the organization represent the State Street corridor, the entire central business district, or both?

Guess what: you’re not the only one who’s confused. So we thought it would help to provide some background about the CLA, especially in regard to its management of the State Street Special Service Area (SSA) and its impact on BOMA/Chicago buildings, and also explain how BOMA/Chicago and the CLA work together.

The CLA was founded in 2005 following a merger of the Central Michigan Avenue Association and the Greater State Street Council. While the CLA has traditionally focused much of its programming in the East Loop, the group occasionally hosts networking and educational events in other parts of the Loop as well. The CLA has over 250 members including businesses, organizations and individuals located within downtown Chicago.

Perhaps most important to BOMA/Chicago building members, the CLA manages the State Street SSA #1. An SSA is a local tax district that funds expanded services and programs (such as security, landscaping and cleaning) through an additional localized property tax levy within a specific area. Services paid for by SSA funds should be in addition to standard services already being provided by the City. The State Street SSA is the only SSA in the Loop and one of 54 SSAs in the City of Chicago.

An SSA is similar to a Business Improvement District (BID) used in other cities, with one major difference – a BID places control with the building owners and managers paying the levy to ensure the services provided add value to the buildings and are consistent with the owners’ needs and interests. Instead, an SSA allows the Mayor to appoint commissioners to oversee and recommend the annual services, budget and service provider agency to the City. This means that building owners and managers in the State Street SSA have little say over the prioritization of services and selection of vendors, including rates and quality of work.

The State Street SSA was originally created in 1977.  A renewal enacted in 2015 continues the SSA until 2030. Boundaries for the area include property on both sides of State Street between Wacker Drive and Congress Parkway. Government buildings do not pay into the SSA, but do reap the benefits from the extra taxes paid by privately owned buildings.

The 2018 SSA agreement indicates the State Street SSA levy collected more than $2.6 million in 2017, with 2018 funds allocated for public way aesthetics, customer attraction, economic/business development, and safety programs, in addition to SSA management and personnel. The 2017 SSA tax rate was .309 percent of the equalized assessed value, which equates to an annual assessment of nearly $30,900 for a building valued at $10 million. That tax levy appears as a distinct line item on the property tax bill of any taxable real estate within the SSA boundaries.

Property management teams have commended the CLA for their work to beautify the State Street corridor, such as planters, landscaping, and the CLA street teams. Yet many buildings still rely on their own services, including snow removal and power washing, because they are faster and more reliable. Some property managers would like to see greater transparency and communication related to services, costs and outcomes. Many feel the SSA places a disproportionate tax burden on office buildings, while mainly benefiting retail stores on the ground floor. Views from our building members also can differ based on building type: class A buildings take pride in the first-rate amenities and services they offer tenants, while class B and C buildings may appreciate the extra help the State Street SSA provides.

In 2014, BOMA/Chicago successfully opposed the CLA’s efforts to expand the SSA’s boundaries which would tax more buildings located outside of State Street, including buildings as far away as the Aon Center. Most buildings in the proposed expansion area resisted paying for services that wouldn’t directly benefit their building and tenants. Building members also remain confident they can provide many of the same services as the SSA that are better, faster and cheaper. While BOMA/Chicago values CLA’s efforts through its management of the SSA to beautify and promote the State Street corridor – a very unique retail area in the Loop – BOMA/Chicago will continue to oppose future expansion proposals and drive the debate about what is the best and fairest approach.

Despite a difference in opinion over the SSA expansion, our two groups share information, attend each other’s events, and meet regularly. The CLA and BOMA/Chicago have a mutual interest in serving building members, enhancing security and promoting economic development within the Loop, and we look forward to working together in the years ahead.








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Gold Circle Awards Profile: 2018 Property Management Professional of the Year Heather Holderman [Part 1 of 2]

Heather Holderman, General Manager with CBRE at 353 North Clark, was named BOMA/Chicago’s 2018 Property Management Professional of the Year.


How did you get involved in the commercial real estate industry?

Somewhat by accident actually.  I was working in the financial sector and someone approached me about an administrative position within a real estate company, working in “property management.”  I had no previous knowledge of the field or what the position might entail, but it has turned into an incredibly rewarding career where I’ve had the opportunity to learn about so many other contributing sectors and the professionals serving those sectors. It’s also helped me understand the businesses of the tenants that occupy office buildings and how their success plays a pivotal role in the success of an office building.

You recently led your team to achieve platinum LEED certification for your building. What are some of the outcomes you have experienced from this certification?

We know that tenants prefer assets that have LEED certification from an efficiency and operating expense standpoint and we also have several tenants with LEED-CI designations themselves.  They share in a corporate responsibility to sustainability within their respective cultures.  We also believe that such stewardship is important to recruiting younger talent and many of our foreign counterparts already have a strong emphasis on sustainability.

By engaging in a retro-commissioning program in combination with our LEED Platinum certification, we have been successful in shedding approximately one million kilowatts from our baseline annually and continue to challenge ourselves and the building’s operations to find new and innovative sources of conservation.

What advice would you share with other property managers aspiring to attain this highest LEED rating?

Preparation and teamwork.  Your entire team has to be committed to the goal and willing to invest the extra time and effort to approaching the project from a mindset that is slightly different from traditional real estate.  It can be challenging to convince an owner to make necessary and significant up-front investments. The team must also embrace new building operating strategies that are different from past practices.  Additionally, many of the principles of LEED certification also have a human element such as access to natural light for the majority of occupants.  This concept is contrary to past practices where private offices along the perimeter for a select handful of the total occupants was more commonplace.  With all this in mind, it takes total dedication to affect the change necessary to be recognized by LEED. Without the support of all team members, and frankly strong relationships with the tenant base, the success of the project is in the balance.

You are also leading efforts to implement monitoring based commissioning (MBCx) in your building. How did this come about and what are some of the benefits you’re seeing?

We are very excited about the prospect of MBCx after learning more about it from attending BOMA/Chicago’s Energy Forum in 2017. Some of our colleagues who have participated in MBCx programs were also panelists at the forum, which allowed us an opportunity to follow up with them after and explore how MBCx benefited them as well as obtain some best practices.

We are currently enrolled in MBCx and have implemented several measures, with several more in the upcoming heating season.  We conduct monthly status meetings with our consultant and work closely with our building automation contractor for changes that have been identified by our engineer team in conjunction with our consultant.

The true results of our performance from participating in the program will be more identifiable at the end of initial performance period in the first quarter of 2019.  However, we are currently projecting some substantial energy savings with some smaller measures already impacting part of the overall reduction.

Can you tell us about some of the other sustainability programs at your building?

We have historically and will continue to participate in demand response programs.  In the past year, the engineering and management teams worked cohesively to identify measures that are impactful during peak demand periods and work with building occupants to create awareness of why we are operating differently during these times, especially for measures that are visible to building occupants or measures to which they can contribute.  Tenant involvement propagates a community toward sustainable efforts and provides them with a sense of ownership in the program.

Read Part 2 of Heather Holderman’s profile.

2019 Gold Circle Award nominations are open September 17 through October 26, 2018. Click here for more information.

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