Three compete for register of deeds seat

May. 03, 2014 @ 12:45 PM

The three candidates vying to become the next register of deeds agree that more efficiently serving the public is a priority.

Incumbent Deborah B. Brooks is working to keep her seat at the county’s Register of Deeds, facing challenges on Tuesday from Sara Stephens and former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton.
Brooks has been in the register’s office for 38 years, spending the last four as the register of deeds. Part of making records more accessible, as of April 17, the office began taking credit and debit cards, Brooks said.
The office is also scanning older birth, death and marriage certificates, as well as real estate documents dating back to 1752.
“I plan to continue to create and maintain the accuracy and integrity of the land title and vital records of Orange County,” Brooks said. “Providing access to these public records is of the upmost importance to me along with courteous and professional service to citizens.”
Brooks said that enhanced technological improvements to operations in the office is also a top priority, including online marriage applications, stopping printing of books to save space and the continued scanning of historic documents.
Stephens said that if she is elected she plans to implement online marriage license applications, electronic birth registration and hire Spanish-speaking employees to assist the county’s Spanish-speaking population.
“The register of deeds must keep a finger on the pulse of our growing and ever-changing communities so that we can understand the wants and needs of our taxpayers and provide excellent customer service to all citizens,” said Stephens. “I will ensure that our staff and myself would receive up-to-date continuing education, and I would have an open door policy for the public to inform me of their concerns, what we are doing right, and what we can do better.”
Stephens has said that she supports marriage equality and would accept the marriage applications of same-sex couples until North Carolina lifts its ban, then complete them.
Chilton has also expressed support for same-sex marriages and hiring Spanish-speaking staff. Chilton maintains several blogs, one where he examines historical land documents from the Piedmont.
He is coming to the election with personal experience accessing older documents and a background in real estate and real estate law, working day to day with many of the documents handled by the Register of Deeds office.
Like Stephens and Brooks, Chilton sees public access to records as paramount and making that process as user-friendly as possible is part of that goal.