Thornton Township assessor says she was locked out of office after dispute with supervisor Tiffany Henyard

A south suburban elected official got a rude surprise, as she learned she has been locked out of her own office.

Cassandra Elston believes it is dirty politics by another elected official, who is now at the center of multiple controversies.

Elston has been the Assessor of Thornton Township for the past 10 years. It’s an elected position that helps residents deal with exemptions and property tax appeals. But when she arrived Tuesday morning, something strange happened when Elston tried to get into her private office.

"The key doesn’t work," Elston said.

Not only had Elston been locked out of her own office, but boxes of sensitive documents she kept in her office were spread around the common area.

"This was under lock and key," Elston said, pointing to a box of files. "Now it’s just out in the open. So it has taxpayer’s names, addresses, telephone numbers, some of them even have a Social Security number."


So who does she believe locked her out? "I would imagine it’s the new supervisor Tiffany Henyard," Elston replied.

Henyard has become a political lightning rod since she was elected mayor of Dolton, making $46,000 a year. And in 2022, Henyard was also appointed Thornton Township Supervisor at a salary of more than $200,000 a year.

Last week, FOX 32 and the Illinois Answers Project investigated how Henyard is using Dolton and Thornton Township tax money, employees, and equipment to fund a cancer charity in her name.

Elston has been critical of Henyard’s spending at the township and believes getting kicked out is political payback.

"Well, I guess right now I’m going to work from here," Elston said, standing outside her locked office. "But this is not going to stop me. This is my job. This is what I get paid to do and this is what I’m going to do."

In the middle of our interview with Elston, Thornton Township security officers walked into her office and ordered us to stop filming and leave. South Holland police were then called to the scene, and they agreed with us that the assessor had every right to invite us into her office.

Elston’s attorney, Burt Odelson, said Henyard has no legal authority to lock out the Assessor.

"Not only Tiffany Henyard, but nobody has a right to do this to a separate, elected official like the assessor," he said.

Odelson said they plan to file a lawsuit in Cook County, demanding that Elston get her office back.

"It is extremely illegal. Illegal to another degree. You just don’t see this. Even in Illinois, even in Cook County. You just don’t see this," he said.

After we finished our interview with Elston, the electric key fobs were deactivated for all the Assessor’s employees, meaning now none of them can get into the office.

On Wednesday, they plan to work from folding tables and chairs outside the township office.

FOX 32 reached out to Henyard for comment to see if she was in fact the person who changed the lock on Elston's office. We have not yet heard back.