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Toothache interrupts Cook County assessor candidate Forrest Claypool

Candidates across Illinois are trying to make the most of their last day before Tuesday’s election. But a leading contender in a tight Cook County race had to step off the campaign trail for a few hours.

Assessor candidate Forrest Claypool said his “emergency” began last night after Halloween trick-or-treating. “I made the mistake of stealing my 9-year-old daughter’s Tootsie Roll,” he said. “It was like a hydraulic lift on my cavity filling, and just pulled it right out.”

Before he knew it, Claypool was in a Hyde Park dentist’s chair. The repair on Tooth No. 18 forced Claypool to cancel a Monday afternoon appearance at Manny’s Deli, a frequent stop for politicians before Election Day. He hoped the Novocain would wear off in time to meet rush-hour commuters at the Roosevelt stop of CTA’s Red Line.

Claypool, a Cook County Board member, is running for assessor as an independent. His main competition is Cook County Democratic Chair Joe Berrios, a member of the Board of Review, the county’s tax-appeals panel. Claypool accuses Berrios of arranging tax breaks for friends and political donors and criticizes him for helping put family members into government jobs.

Berrios insists he hasn’t played favorites at the Board of Review and calls himself an advocate for county homeowners. A spokesman said Berrios planned to spend his last evening of campaigning at a downtown event with Chinatown business leaders.

One of the race’s key battles is for black votes. On Sunday, both Claypool and Berrios spoke to African American congregations. The two are also running ads on black radio stations.

The contest also includes Republican Sharon Strobek-Eckersall, a former Evanston Township assessor, and the Green Party’s Robert Grota, a Cook County assessor’s office analyst.

The office sets the value of nearly every property in the county to help determine each owner’s taxes.

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