Lake GOP still hunting for next county assessor

2013-10-21T19:30:00Z 2013-10-21T22:12:10Z Lake GOP still hunting for next county assessorBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
October 21, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Lake County Republicans are only 10 days from holding a caucus to name the next county assessor and still waiting for someone to step forward and apply for the job.

"This looks like one of the hardest offices to fill," Dan Dernulc, the county GOP chairman, said Monday.

A recent change in state law requires the county assessor to have achieved a Level III assessor/appraiser certification, which requires the completing of hours of real estate valuation courses and examinations.

"There are only 20 folks in Lake County who are Level III, and my pool is a heck of a lot smaller than that," Dernulc said.

Among the 20 listed on the state registry, many are Democrats or their party affiliation isn't publicly known.

Center Township Assessor Kristie Dressel and St. John Township Assessor Melody Kikkert are Republicans and have Level III certification, but would have to forfeit their township jobs and face the prospect of a hard campaign against Democratic opponents in the 2014 general election.

Adams became the first Republican to win a countywide office in Lake in 50 years when he pulled off his upset victory in 2010. Adams died Oct. 6.

"Hank was a great assessor, and the new one will be filling some big shoes," Dernulc said.

The caucus is scheduled to take place 6 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Lake County Government Center auditorium at 2293 N. Main St., Crown Point.

Dernulc said he scheduled it as late as possible to give possible candidates as much time as possible to consider their options.

While he is researching the possibility no candidate may come forward by caucus time, he doesn't expect that worst-case scenario to take place.

Dernulc said he has spoken with a number of Level III appraisers who may be willing to change their party affiliation, which he has the authority to do.

"It was done previously by an earlier county chairman," Dernulc said.

Debra Johnson, a data clerk in the county assessor's office, said Monday she is considering a run for the office. "I've been approached and the thought of completing the work Hank Adams started has me considering it," she said, adding she worked with the accuracy of assessments "to ensure on-time tax bills."

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