Chesterton Tribune



Rensberger and Breitzke face off in Porter County Surveyor race

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In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, Democrat incumbent Kevin Breitzke will face Republican challenger Bill Rensberger in the race for Porter County Surveyor. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to a candidate questionnaire.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit responses for length.

(1) For Breitzke: Age, place of residence, terms in office. 61, Valparaiso, five terms.

For Rensberger: Age, place of residence, occupation. 56, Duneland, president of Rensberger Land Surveying Inc.

(2) Describe the Porter County Surveyorís responsibilities (75 words).

Breitzke: The County Surveyor is an active voting member of the Stormwater Management Board, County Plan Commission, Kankakee River Basin Commission, and Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. The Surveyor is the statutory authority on the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of all regulated drains, and for reviewing complaints regarding private drain obstructions. Other duties include maintaining and perpetuating section corners, maintaining survey records including a legal survey book, maintaining annexation descriptions, certify businesses for alcoholic beverage permits.

Rensberger: Anybody can be elected county surveyor. That and county commissioner are the only local elected seats that arenít term-limited. It once was very difficult to find a qualified surveyor to fill the position so they eliminated term limits. I support term limits but wonít chastise my opponent for taking advantage of the system. On the contrary, the incumbent is a licensed surveyor and has been much better in office than an un-licensed person wouldíve been.

(3) For Breitzke: Describe your achievements in office (75 words). Iíve increased in-house production for significant drainage projects averaging approximately 30 a year for the past 10 years. For 36 years prior to my election, my predecessors averaged less than two per year. I have made personal, friendly service the highest priority of this office by providing assistance with drainage, property, and surveying issues in a timely and efficient manner. I quadrupled the Surveyor land records by acquiring private records of local land surveyors.

For Rensberger: Describe your qualifications for office (75 words). I am a professional land surveyor. I am a certified septic system inspector. I am a certified stormwater plan preparer/inspector. I am a lifetime member of the American Legion and have 20 years combined service in the Army and Reserves.

(4) For Breitzke: Why are you seeking re-election to this office? (75 words) I continue to enjoy the challenges of this office, and I will continue to promote adoption of positive changes for everyone's best quality of life. I enjoy giving personal service and providing assistance to all of our Porter County citizens. Finally, I am committed to improving my life-long home, Porter County. Since both sides of my family have been here since before 1900, I have no desire to ever live or work anywhere else.

For Rensberger: Why are you seeking election to this office? (75 words) I will be taking a substantial cut in pay if elected. I would like the county job but donít need it. If elected I may attempt to take the office back down to part time as it has historically been and plan on serving four years, maybe a couple more if I think itís necessary. I think new blood and fresh thoughts are a good thing for elected offices.

(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself to be a better candidate (100 words).

Breitzke: This office has diverse responsibilities beyond being a land surveyor. I have professional licenses/certifications in three different areas of expertise beneficial to our citizens: Professional Engineer (29 years), ASFPM Certified Floodplain Manager, and Professional Land Surveyor (33 years). In addition to a degree from Valparaiso University (BS Civil Engineering), where my senior project was about Porter County drainage, I have over 40 years of practical and professional surveying and engineering experience. I am an accomplished leader in regional and county planning, stormwater and flood management, and environmental policy resulting in economic and personal benefits for Porter County citizens.

Rensberger: Iím a Republican with strong Libertarian roots, moved to Chesterton in 1990 to take a job as a land surveyor, and took over the company after my employer died in 1996. In 1990 it seemed Porter County was much better off economically than other places. I learned in my first week here that it was because of the steelworkers. I owe them and thank them for providing me the opportunity to make a good living.

(6) What are the key issues in this race? (100 words)

Breitzke: As a member of the Stormwater Management Board, I will continue to help improve drainage and resolve drainage issues with cost-effective solutions.

As an active member of the Plan Commission, I will continue to promote positive planning practices to protect, preserve, and improve the infrastructure, land, and environment for all citizens, institutions, and businesses.

Maintenance and perpetuation of section corner monuments is a challenge due to excavation, construction, and road work. I will continue the perpetuation of important survey markers and reference points by working with municipal, state, and federal agencies as they plan roads and public works projects.

Rensberger: Every half mile (usually in the center of a county road) is a section corner. Maintaining these corners is the county surveyorís primary responsibility and the reason they should be licensed. I have the latest and greatest software and hardware and wonít hesitate to use my personal equipment to establish and maintain these corners if necessary. The incumbent has made progress maintaining existing corners but many donít exist. I have the knowledge and desire to establish them. Once theyíre in place Iíll no longer have to give outrageous monetary quotes to prepare a boundary survey for Porter County land holders.

(7) Exactly what drainage projects do you intend to pursue in Duneland and when? (75 words)

Breitzke: I will pursue projects identified in the 2010 county-wide Comprehensive Drainage Plan and especially areas of significant concern: Damon Run, Bernhard Koselke, Brown, and Kemper (Little Calumet) ditches. Prior to passing the stormwater fee beginning this year, these all lacked funding. Parts of Shooter, Pope-OíConnor, Swanson-Lamporte, and Wieland ditches need additional maintenance soon. Ditches within towns (Peterson, Gustafson, Friday, and Munson ditches) donít pay county stormwater fees and will require town participation.

Rensberger: There is a new Stormwater Management Board so the regulated drain responsibilities have been diminished.

(8) For Breitzke: Some have suggested that it's unfair to require land conservation groups like Shirley Heinze Land Trust and the Izaak Walton League to pay the new stormwater management fee because their holdings prevent runoff instead of encouraging it. As a member of the Stormwater Management Board--which prepared the fee schedule--how would you respond to this charge? (75 words) I advocated a substantial reduction of fees for land conservation groups, but not total exemption since they pay little property tax. If successful, their programs should reduce run-off, but wonít totally eliminate all run-off and its impacts to the county highway and drainage systems. Also, since they pay a fee, Porter County can justifiably use stormwater fees and partner with them on these properties to develop mutually beneficial stormwater projects and public access.

For Rensberger: Are you satisfied with the fairness of the new stormwater fee schedule for unincorporated property owners? (75 words) It is my opinion that the new Stormwater Board is a good thing for Porter County, though the Libertarian/Republican in me is opposed to old taxes, not to mention new taxes. We donít truly own property--we just rent it.



Posted 10/10/2016




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