Caucus to ponder which surveyor candidate knows all the angles

2014-01-02T17:30:00Z 2014-01-03T11:59:11Z Caucus to ponder which surveyor candidate knows all the anglesBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
January 02, 2014 5:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Don't expect either candidate for Lake County surveyor to enter Saturday's Democratic caucus wielding a theodolite or any other surveying tools of the trade.

Neither Bill Emerson Jr. nor Gregory Sanchez are professional land surveyors, the private-sector equivalent of the county job to be filled this weekend by Democratic precinct committeemen.

Each man said they have other training and experience that qualifies them for the job of managing stormwater and marking boundaries for developers for the next three years.

Lake County hasn't had a professional land surveyor at the helm in 20 years, since its last, former Surveyor Steve Manich, retired and was replaced by George Van Til, who farmed out surveying chores to others.

The caucus must replace Van Til, who resigned last month after pleading guilty to fraud counts alleging he assigned political work to his public employees.

None of Lake County's professional land surveyors applied for the elected position before the candidate filing deadline closed Thursday morning.

Sanchez said he has on-the-job training, having run the office since Van Til's departure a month ago and serving as second-in-command since July 2012. He said the job calls for an executive who can manage the office's $2.4 million budget and 25 full-time staff members.

Sanchez said he has a master's degree in public administration. As a branch manager for a Hammond investment firm, he has financial expertise, he said. He said the next surveyor's biggest job will be restoring public faith in the office.

Emerson said he is a civil engineer, which is a related field to surveying, in addition to being an attorney.

"As a civil engineer, I will use my expertise to decide what county civil engineering projects need to be done, and I will make sure they are done correctly and within budget. As an attorney, I will work every day to make sure the surveyor's office serves the people of Lake County efficiently and within the law," he said.

He said he would make office records and flood-control contracts available online and work with local municipalities, local engineers and surveyors and the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission.

As to whether being a professional land surveyor matters, only about half of Indiana's 93 county surveyors have the eight years of education and job experience and passed the state's examination, according to Zachariah E. Beasley, president of the County Surveyors Association of Indiana.

He said a number of professional land surveyors have built up private businesses and are reluctant to walk away from them for the uncertain world of political elections.

Beasley said being a registered land surveyor "has been a tremendous advantage for me as county surveyor for the last four years."

"I spend about 70 percent of my time in the office and 30 percent in the field. I have a staff, and I've got almost 800 miles of county regulated (stormwater) drains to be reconstructed and 1,987 section corners we take care," Beasley said.

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