Republican Donald Perryman was first elected to the post in 1993 and this year is running unopposed for his sixth term.
“Everybody asks me all the time what we do,” said Perryman, 63. “There is no compensation by the county. … They don’t even give me a parking space.”
Perryman’s duties entail handling any questions or disputes between Cobb property owners regarding surveying issues or property boundaries and determining if the surveys conducted by other contracted surveyors are correct. The parties pay for his services.
“It’s our job to help mediate that or provide a survey for them,” he said. “If a survey is required, we offer to do it for them or they can hire any surveyor registered in Georgia.
Using an instrument called a total station — the tripod you might see being used on the side of a road by someone in an orange vest — surveyors measure the distance and angle of properties. As surveyor, Perryman may subdivide a 40-acre parcel into 100 lots for a developer and figure out where the streets, infrastructure and sewer and water lines should run, for example.
Rob Hosack, who has been Cobb’s community development director for the last 14 years, has had to occasionally call on Perryman.
“It’s very, very infrequent, but the couple of times over the years, it’s been helpful,” Hosack said. “It’s nice to be able to draw on the county surveyor’s expertise when you do run into problems.”
Georgia counties are not required to have an elected surveyor, though the secretary of state’s office could not say how many of Georgia’s 159 counties continue to have one.
Perryman said some counties eliminated the job when they felt it was no longer necessary.
“It’s sort of an out-of-date office,” he said, though he declined to say whether he thinks Cobb’s legislative delegation should eliminate the post.
“It’s a worthwhile office, but the responsibilities at the county level should be increased,” he said. “A county surveyor should review flats and be more involved. There’s a national association for the country, and they promote that.”
Given that no tax money pays the surveyor’s salary, the qualifying fee to run for the office is just $15. Qualifying fees for other elected jobs are generally 3 percent of the office’s salary, meaning candidates pay anywhere from $207 to seek a seat on the Marietta City School Board to $5,220 to seek a seat in Congress.
“I still have to pay the fee, of course, to register and also have to file all the campaign disclosure reports … it requires some work on my part,” he said.
Perryman, though, said he’s never had to intensely campaign for the office.
“The fact that I don’t get any money makes it harder to spend a lot of money to get elected, but I did have some signs put out in the past or just done interviews over the phone,” he said.
Perryman, who is unopposed in both the primary and the Nov. 6 general election, has been a surveyor since 1968. He started his own business, Surveys Plus Inc., off South Cobb Drive in Smyrna in 1989, and has six employees.
To be a surveyor, one must have a two-year degree like Perryman does from Southern Polytechnic and take courses in land surveying or have nearly eight years of experience and pass the Land Surveyor In Training exam and be licensed by the state.
He said he knew as a child growing up in Cobb that he wanted to be a surveyor.
“When I was a kid, there was some rail construction in front of my house and one of the guys let me look through one of his instruments,” he said. “I was sold after that.”