Chilton elected Orange County register of deeds

May. 07, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

Former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton beat one challenger and an incumbent with 38 years of experience in the race Tuesday for the top post at the Orange County register of deeds.

Chilton, who said he ran for the job based on experience researching historical documents for a book and other projects and through work as a real estate attorney, secured 6,682 votes, or 42.5 percent, according to unofficial returns. When he takes office, he said he plans to sign same-sex marriage licenses.

Chilton said in an interview Tuesday night that he believes that North Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is “clearly contrary” to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“I’m planning on taking them and signing them and issuing them,” he said. “Based upon my reading of federal decision up to this point, I believe this is what the U.S. Constitution requires me to do.”

However, Chilton said he also plans to watch pending court cases, including one before a federal appeals court. A judge’s decision to strike down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban has been appealed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“There may be other federal decisions that have to be taken into account, too,” he said.

In addition, Chilton said he’d also like to make improvements to the Register of Deeds website. He also plans on hiring additional Spanish-speaking staff to the department.

Chilton beat Deborah Brooks, who was seeking re-election to her second four-year term.

Brooks has a total of 38 years working in the office, including 12 as assistant register of deeds. She ran on a platform of experience and knowledge in the job. She got 6,135, or 39 percent, of the vote.

The other challenger in the race was Sara Stephens. She has a master’s degree in library science from N.C. Central University and experience working in the private sector as well as working as deputy register of deeds for in the county. She received 2,893 votes, or about 18 percent.