As a first-generation American, Michael Cabonargi knows our community only works when everyone has an opportunity to succeed. One of the first in his family to attend college, Mike graduated with honors from Miami University of Ohio. There he discovered a passion for advocacy. Mike and a group of students fought so his school could donate unused food to the needy in their community through a new Good Samaritan law. As Student Body President, he continued to fight for economic empowerment and social justice.
After college, Mike dedicated himself to public service as an aide to U.S. Senators Paul Simon and Dick Durbin, handling economic development initiatives so Illinois families are always put first. Mike then attended the University of Illinois College of Law where he received his law degree with honors.
After graduation, Mike was selected for a prestigious federal clerkship. While a clerk, Mike helped found the court’s first help desk for litigants who represent themselves in court but still need guidance. For this, Mike received the Award for Excellence in Public Interest Service from the Federal Bar Association and the U.S. District Court. Mike was also an award-winning attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission, investigating and prosecuting fraud, insider trading, and Ponzi schemes. Mike received the Chairman’s Award and the Director’s Award for Excellence for his work.
In 2011, Mike was appointed and later elected to the Cook County Board of Review, where he has ensured Cook County property owners pay only their fair share in property taxes, while also ensuring schools, libraries, and local governments receive necessary funds timely. The Board fairly and impartially reviews the assessments of all Cook County property, correcting assessments which should be corrected and lowering property taxes as a result. The Board consists of three members elected from individual districts. The Second District includes Chicago’s north and northwest neighborhoods, plus north and northwest suburban communities.
Mike has made the Board more transparent, open, and effective. His office has contacted more than 1.5 million residents and held more than 250 community outreaches to help homeowners appeal their taxes in their own neighborhood. Mike obtained translations for the office’s appeal forms in Spanish, Polish, Korean, and other languages spoken by Cook County homeowners. Mike led the development of the Board’s innovative digital appeals processing system that digitizes operations and removes the paper in the process. Now, more than 93% of appeals are filed online.
Under his leadership, the Board launched a digital appeals processing system that re-engineered and digitized the appeal review process, saves money in employee overtime and document storage and provides taxpayers a more efficient, complete and reliable review of their appeals.
Mike, his wife Erin, and their teenage sons live in Wilmette. Mike serves as Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, a member of the Democratic National Committee and the Association of State Democratic Committees, and was a Delegate to the 2012, 2016, and 2020 Democratic Conventions and an Elector to the 2020 Electoral College.