Kane County Chronicle

Kane County Board candidate Tom Hodge challenges legal residency of incumbent Mark Davoust

Hodge: ‘He vacated his office when he got the homestead exemption in Florida’

Kane County Board, District 14 candidate Tom Hodge

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Kane County Board member Mark Davoust’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 8 General Election has alleged the incumbent Republican is no longer a legal Illinois resident after claiming a tax exemption on his Marco Island, Florida property in 2017.

Thomas Hodge argues that Davoust should be removed from the November ballot and disqualified from serving out the remainder of his term after he and his wife gave up their $6,000 Kane County homestead exemption in 2017 and sought a $50,000 exemption for their Florida property.

“What he did was, he vacated his office when he got the homestead exemption in Florida,” Hodge said. “You cannot do a homestead exemption unless it is your primary residence. … He is a resident of Florida. ... Illinois is no longer his primary residence. The fact that he’s sitting there with impunity is a joke.”

Davoust acknowledged he withdrew the homestead exemption in Kane County. But he said it was his wife, Melody, who is retired, and not him who filed for the homestead exemption in Florida.

“We are fortunate to own a second property, a vacation home in Florida,” Davoust said. “We surrendered the one (homestead exemption) here. I didn’t want there to be any impropriety in trying to have two of them.”

Davoust said he never asserted his residence as being in Florida. He said that his voter registration is in Illinois, his business is in Illinois, and he volunteers to help with his grandchildren’s varsity golf games that all occur in Illinois.

“I am and have always been an Illinois resident,” Davoust said. “The only application that has ever been made was by Melody. ... A homestead exemption here is not the be-all and end-all of residency.”

Hodge sent a letter to Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser on Tuesday alleging Davoust effectively “vacated his seat in 2017 when his petition to remove his Homestead (exemption) from his property in St. Charles (was) granted.”

“And his application for Homestead was granted on his property in Marco Island Florida. He has not been a resident of IL since 2017,” Hodge’s letter states. “As a registered voter of the 14th district of Kane County, I am requesting (the state’s attorney) to file a Quo Warranto Action against Kane County Board Member Mark Davoust.”

According to state law, quo warranto is used to resolve a dispute over whether someone has the legal right to hold the public office that he or she occupies. Hodge’s letter to Mosser asks the state’s attorney to file a complaint against Davoust.

“I have no decision at this time,” Mosser stated in a text. “I am researching the matter.”

As a real estate agent, Hodge said his research into property records showed Davoust withdrew his $6,000 homestead exemption for his property in the 36W800 block of Crane Road, St. Charles Township, effective in 2017 – the same time the couple’s Florida property began receiving a $50,000 homestead exemption.

Florida property records show the Davousts are receiving $25,000 apiece in a homestead exemption for their property in the 100 block of Hollyhock Court, Marco Island, Florida.

Assistant Chief Deputy Kane County Assessor Bev Doran said the office received a letter Dec. 28, 2016, to withdraw the homestead exemption from the Crane Road property.

“We remove them from here and we send them a letter stating they have been removed,” Doran said. “We do not keep the letter.”

Customer Service Supervisor Melissa Robinson for the Collier County Property Appraiser’s Office in Florida said the office cannot release a copy of the homestead exemption application because it is considered confidential.

But Robinson said the records for the Davousts’ Marco Island address show the application was made by the March 1, 2016, deadline in order to take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

“March 1 is the deadline of each year to take effect Jan. 1,” Robinson said.

In order to get the homestead exemption, Florida requires a home to have a value of at least $75,000. Applicants must have a valid Florida driver’s license; if a vehicle is owned, it needs to be registered in Florida and the applicant must be a registered voter in Florida, Robinson said.

“We don’t care who makes the application, there is only one exemption,” Robinson said. “Under Florida law, they are deemed a unit. … Not both have to make application to get the benefit because they have equal 100% ownership of the property. With one making application, it’s the same whether one or both apply.”

The Davousts’ Marco Island property is assessed at $666,660, Collier County property records show.

According to Davoust’s affidavit to run for County Board District 15, he swore that he lives at the Crane Road address. Kane County Clerk records show that Mark Davoust is a registered voter, but his wife Melody is not listed as a registered voter.

Collier County records in Florida do not confirm that Melody Davoust is registered to vote there.