ANGOLA — Mike Ruff, a veteran land surveyor with wide experience and a strong knowledge of Steuben County’s 100-plus lakes, was chosen as the new Steuben County surveyor by a Republican Party caucus Thursday night.
Ruff was sworn in to office Friday morning by Steuben County Clerk Tangi Manahan.
Ruff was selected on the first vote of a four-man contest by Republican precinct committee leaders to fill the vacancy created by the sudden Sept. 29 death of long-time Surveyor Larry Gilbert.
“It’s big shoes to fill, but I will do my best,” Ruff said, adding that he anticipates seeking reelection in two years when the office is on the ballot in 2022.
The other candidates were Jason Armey, Daniel Oberst and Jim Slabaugh.
Gilbert, who was first elected in 1982, was known for his innovative approach to surface water management in order to maintain high water quality to not only preserve the lakes, but to make sure what water leaves the county does so in a clean state and without causing problems for those downstream. Steuben County is the headwaters of three different watersheds.
“Larry, through his terms, did the best he could to keep the sediment out of the lakes. He kept the lakes clean,” Ruff said.
Gilbert’s work was praised from all corners of the county upon his death. There is a movement afoot to get public land owned by the county named in his memory in the Hamilton area.
Ruff said he doesn’t plan any significant changes in the operation of the office. He went to work after being sworn in on Friday and will lead his first Steuben County Drainage Board meeting on Monday.
“There’s no real change that’s going to occur,” he said.
Ruff is a licensed surveyor and owner of Accurate Survey and Consulting. He has worked in a variety of capacities over the years, including working in the 1980s on the staking of leach fields for the original cluster system that was operated by the Steuben Lakes Regional Waste District and again in the early 2000s doing property line inspections for the district.
“I’ve been involved with the lakes since the early ‘80s,” Ruff said. “We’ve made vast improvements on the lakes.”
Ruff has also worked for a variety of other private survey and engineering firms over the years and also with the Indiana Department of Transportation, where he worked for 12 years. He has been a surveyor for 49 years.
Ruff lives in rural Angola. He and his wife, Dawn, have three grown children, Mary Holley, Sarah Mest and Eric Ruff.