CROWN POINT | Former Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez is contemplating a new foray into county politics.
"I'm exploring the opportunity of running for auditor," said Dominguez, who is now a Merrillville attorney. "People have asked me to consider running for the auditor. I know how important the auditor's office is to county government, and I told them I would consider it."
Incumbent county Auditor Peggy Katona, who is barred from seeking re-election by term limits, will leave office next year and intends to run for county treasurer. Currently, John Petalas is the only announced candidate for auditor. Currently serving as county treasurer, he is barred by term limits from continuing there.
The auditor is county government's fiscal officer, acting as bookkeeper and payroll clerk for county government employees and private service vendors for the county.
The office is an archive for a number of public financial documents involving property tax exemptions and property valuations for taxing purposes. It has 35 full-time employees and a 2013 budget of $1.9 million.
Dominguez said managing the $28 million budget for the police, jail and animal control offices during his eight years as sheriff has prepared him to be auditor.
"I've dealt with one of the largest budgets in Lake County. I bring administrative experience as well as well as my legal background, so I understand the fiscal and budgetary process of the county," he said.
Dominguez was elected county sheriff and served from 2002 to 2006 and ran unsuccessfully last year for the 3rd District seat on the Lake County Board of Commissioners.
Dominguez said friends also have asked him to run for sheriff again, but he won't. "I enjoyed my time as sheriff and look forward to taking on new challenges in life and never have considered running for sheriff again.
"I believe there are two good candidates who would make excellent sheriffs, Oscar Martinez and Richard Ligon," he said.
Both Ligon and Martinez have said they will campaign for sheriff next year. Col. Richard Ligon is a former city of Gary Public Safety director, has 34 years of military experience and was a law enforcement official for the U.S. Postal Service from 1981 to 2004. Martinez is a 20-year veteran of the county police force.
They will challenge incumbent Sheriff John Buncich, who is running for re-election. Buncich was elected sheriff in 1984 and 1988. Term limits forced him to sit out for a time, but he won election again in 2010 over Ligon, Martinez and several other candidates.