CROWN POINT | Lake County Assessor Hank Adams resigned Tuesday because of ill health.
Jean Shepherd, Adams' wife and St. John Township trustee, said Adams decided that a yearlong fight with cancer has left him too exhausted and in pain to continue in office or run for re-election next year.
Dan Dernulc, chairman of the Lake County GOP, praised the contributions made by Adams, who was the first Republican to win a countywide office in 50 years in 2010. Dernulc noted Adams went on to help deliver on-time property tax bills following years of official inability to cope with changes in tax assessment to a real estate market-based system.
"He's done a great job," Dernulc said.
He said he will call a caucus of all Republican precinct committeemen to replace Adams within 30 days of the official designation of the office being vacant.
Dernulc said any candidate for county assessor will have to have completed Level 2 state-certified training. He said anyone running for county assessor next year will have to have Level 3 certification.
Adams, 77, is a Tennessee native who moved to Northwest Indiana and ran appliance stores for a couple of decades in Gary and Hammond.
He said three years ago during his campaign for county assessor that he got into politics in 1991 when he complained to his hometown Schererville Town Council about an ugly strip mall it had approved and was told to mind his own business.
He said that goaded him into running first for Town Council and then St. John Township assessor, an office he served in for 16 years. He launched his bid for county assessor in 2010 after the Democrats nominated Carol Seaton, who became bogged down in a scandal over avoiding taxes and lost to him by a 668 margin.
Dernulc said, "He took that office and he worked very hard to get (tax) bills out on time with the limited resources he had and made the county better off financially."
Previous delays in tax assessment had resulted in late tax bills that forced taxpayers to stand in line after Christmas in 2007 and 2008 to avoid being delinquent and forced local government to borrow more money to cover operations while awaiting late tax payments.
Dernulc said Adams also cleared up a backlog of thousands of old tax appeals.
Adams underwent chemotherapy over a series of months but returned to work earlier this year. He spent recent weeks convalescing from neck surgery. Shepherd said Adams had appeared to be recovering but decided to quit after a relapse last week.