MARK KIESLING: If you can't do the time, don't do the job

2012-10-31T00:00:00Z 2012-12-20T21:25:33Z MARK KIESLING: If you can't do the time, don't do the job nwitimes.com
October 31, 2012 12:00 am

There are 24 hours in a day, eight of which we spend asleep, but apparently some candidates for public office feel they can jam the 16 remaining hours with two full-time jobs.

It has never ceased to amaze me how some Lake County's elected officeholders, who pull in about $56,000 annually plus generous benefits, can justify this.

Does anyone believe they are able to serve themselves and the public? Even with the assistance of massive quantities of No-Doz?

"No one can serve two masters," Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 6:24. "Either he will hate the one and love the others, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."

Dr. Andy Koultourides, a Munster dentist, says he has no plan to give up his lucrative job if elected coroner. "I'm not quitting dentistry, which I love," he said.

A lot of the would-be winners have served in elected office before, but I know a lot of people who would love to have a $56,000-a-year job, particularly one where you might show up once a week.

Like our former coroner, Tom Philpot, who said he would give up his podiatry practice for a job that then paid $51,000 annually.

Upon election, he immediately did an about-face, appearing in the coroner's office only on Wednesdays, which perhaps not coincidentally was the day the podiatry office was closed.

Others, like Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, are retired. He's going up against Schererville Town Councilman Jerry Tippy, who is kind of fudging the full-time question.

"I've got to win first," said Tippy. Yes, of course, but the voters deserve to know before that how much time you plan to devote to your new job before they cast a ballot, not after.

"It's not something new to me," he said. "I'm a Schererville town councilman."

Part-timers like people on a town council are paid commensurate with a part-time job.

Perhaps nowhere is the line drawn more clearly than in the surveyor's race, where BP engineer Eric Krieg is pitted against longtime Democratic politician George Van Til.

Van Til, who has been a politician going back to when he was a 22-year-old town board member in Highland, has no private sector job to fall back on, unlike his opponent or Tippy.

Much if not all of the problem is that people like Koultourides, Tippy (general manager of a steel fabricating plant) and Krieg stand to make more money in their private jobs.

Should that stand in the way of a desire to go into public service?

Life's full of tough choices. Politics ain't beanbag.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

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