By Wade Coggeshall
INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mike Pence said whoever succeeded Tim Berry as Auditor of State would have some big shoes to fill.
“He leaves behind a legacy of excellence, improved service, and efficiency,” Pence said of Berry. “Our state’s solid fiscal position is due in large part to the work that Tim Berry provided. Every Hoosier is in his debt.”
The governor wanted his successor to have the highest character and a heart for public service. Someone with a solid professional background who could take over the stewardship of the state’s finances.
He found it in Dwayne Sawyer. The former president of the Brownsburg Town Council was officially sworn in as Auditor of State during a ceremony Monday at the Statehouse.
The auditor’s primary duties are accounting for the state’s funds; overseeing and dispersing county, city, town, and school tax distributions; paying the state’s bills; and paying the state’s employees.
“As I believe every Hoosier will come to see in the days ahead, Dwayne Sawyer is uniquely prepared to discharge the duties of this office with professionalism and integrity,” Pence said, adding Sawyer’s most important trait is his integrity.
“Dwayne’s strong character and deep faith will guide him as he oversees our state’s resources. He’s a man of his word who will work with all his heart to serve Hoosiers with humility and integrity.”
Sawyer definitely seemed humbled. He called this opportunity monumental.
“I am here to serve,” he said. “This has been, and continues to be, my personal motto.”
Sawyer took the time to praise Pence, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, and the previous administration, among others, for setting the stage for Indiana to prosper like few other states currently.
“That makes us the envy of this nation,” he said. “I want to do my part to assure that we get there.”
But he called local government officials the unsung heroes.
“We will spend a lot of time working together in the coming months,” Sawyer said. “Thank you for all you do on the front lines.”
He added his experience on the Brownsburg Town Council — including managing a budget of more than $40 million and passing that community’s largest-ever tax cut — gives him a good perspective on the importance of tax disbursements on the local and county levels. As does his professional background developing and implementing financial systems, information technology, and project management for the likes of Roche Diagnostics, Dow AgroSciences, and Eli Lilly.
“I will use those experiences to achieve the goals I have outlined,” Sawyer said.
He reserved the status of most important guests at the ceremony for his family. They included his wife Melissa and their three children, his 96-year-old grandmother, and his father, who is retired from the Air Force.
“I’ve learned that serving my family is the most important job I truly have,” Sawyer said.
His vision as auditor will be guided by one of this country’s most important political figures ever — Abraham Lincoln. Specifically his quote, “Don’t worry if you’re not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”
“I can assure you we will give our best effort and strive to stand firm, protecting Indiana’s financial resources by being fiscally conservative and following the example of certain leaders who came before us,” Sawyer said.