Lake County surveyor candidates lock horns
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 14, 2012 10:34PM
George Van Til, Lake County Surveyor.
Updated: October 15, 2012 10:06AM
Incumbent Democratic Lake County Surveyor George Van Til said his record in office speaks for itself despite claims to the contrary made by his Republican opponent, Eric Krieg.
Van Til touts the success of the 252 projects completed during his almost 20 years in office, 15 percent of which were done in cooperation with other taxing bodies, as proof. He is seeking his sixth term in November.
Krieg says Van Til uses politics to determine what drainage projects the department undertakes and, like the rest of county government in general, uses patronage to fill positions. Krieg’s bid for the surveyor’s office is his second attempt at public office after an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination for Lake County Council against Daniel Dernulc in 2010.
“I believe (Van Til’s) real political in how he chooses what projects to do. I would take a more analytical approach to it,” Krieg said, adding he would use factors like the cost of the job, the number of people impacted and the potential cost of damages to help decide. He said he would like to post the information online and seek more public input.
Van Til said jobs are selected by an 11-member drainage advisory board, with input from himself, the Republican and Democratic engineers, who do take those factors into account and weigh them against the drainage master plan. The projects are then approved by the three-member Board of Commissioners.
“I don’t decide on projects. I don’t decide on engineers,” Van Til said. He said the claim shows his opponent does not understand the surveyor’s office. Van Til said the position is an administrative one where he must use an in-depth knowledge of the department’s budget to get the projects rolling.
Van Til said the position is a full-time one and needs a full time surveyor, something Krieg cannot be if he plans to continue working his current job as well.
“It’s about accessibility,” Van Til said.
Krieg said the office is a technical one and should have a licensed professional in the position to oversee the projects that are under way. As an engineer, he would fit the bill. He said his project management knowledge will help him better run the office.
“I feel it is really an office that should have an engineer,” Krieg said. As a licensed professional, Krieg said he is held to a higher ethical standard, something the office can use. He accused Van Til of paying some contractors before work is complete and not following through. Van Til also is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly campaigning on county time.
Van Til said the investigation is the result of a complaint by a disgruntled employee. He said he has been accused of things in the past but has prevailed. Van Til said any claims or charges filed by his opponent have no credibility because it is a pattern. Krieg filed a complaint against Dernulc during the primary campaign and another earlier this summer against Kim Krull, Republican committee chairwoman.
Both Van Til and Krieg oppose the elimination of the drainage levy in 2013 and will work to have that restored.
Krieg said if the surveyor was not an elected position, the county would be hiring a person like him, an engineer, to do the job.
“There’s no Democratic way to be a surveyor and no Republican way to be a surveyor. There’s a right way and wrong way … Why don’t you elect the person you would have hired,” Krieg said.
Van Til said he would like a sixth term to finish his career in public service and leave behind something of which he can be proud.
“That’s my goal for the next four years, to finish my legacy in a positive way so everyone will know it’s better than when I came,” Van Til said.