CROWN POINT | Lake County Surveyor George Van Til won re-election Tuesday night to a sixth four-year term in office — a happy end to a challenging campaign season for the veteran politician.
Van Til defeated Republican Eric Krieg by a wide margin in the countywide race. Van Til emphasized his experience in office in setting flood-control policy and his efforts to install a county computer-based information system to map potential economic development.
The victory comes in the wake of months of hard campaigning against vigorous opponents in both parties against the backdrop of an FBI investigation of his office, which oversees land surveying and flood-control services.
Van Til attempted to sound nonchalant. "This is my 17th election," he said before the polls opened Monday.
That overlooks a bruising primary challenge from John Garcia, a politically savvy owner of a Hammond engineering firm that he won by fewer than 2,300 votes in the spring primary.
One month later, FBI and state police investigators raided Van Til's office, removing computers and containers full of official documents. In August, key staff members were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. No charges have been filed by the U.S. attorney's office.
Van Til had to endure a weekly barrage of attacks by his Republican opponent. Krieg said his review of the surveyor's job performance turned up instances of Van Til recommending the award of government public works contracts to unbonded contractors and approving early payments to a couple of contractors who had yet to finish their work.
Krieg said it amounted to bid-rigging, since some contractors had contributed to Van Til's re-election, an allegation Van Til said was false.