1003 Laura Drive
Occupation: Part-time employee at University of Illinois. Former clerk for recorder of deeds office, accountant for City of Champaign Township, and program coordinator at Champaign-Urbana Area Project.
Political experience: ran unsuccessfully for City of Champaign Township supervisor in 2009.
1. What qualifies you to be the Champaign County recorder?
The duties of the office of the County Recorder have not changed since the beginning of the county in 1833. Indexing, recording and maintaining important legal documents are the main functions of the office. My experiences as a library specialist, a church secretary, and a recorder clerk are all positions where indexing and recording sensitive documents was a key part of these positions.
I've served this county once before as a recorder clerk under Naomi Jakobsson. I was working in the office when the transition to indexing electronically first began in 1991. As the township accountant, I have exhibited mathematical abilities needed for this office. Most recently, I worked for the University of Illinois Study Abroad Office, where I reconciled accounts in different languages and exchange rates. I am able to understand the requirements of the state-mandated office and work within the guidelines of the law as demonstrated in the township office.
2. Are there any specific qualifications for the office?
Yes, the office requires that you have the ability to analyze and interpret technical procedures and governmental regulations. Also to have a working knowledge of mathematical skills, reasoning ability to understand financial reports and the ability to share the information with the public. The physical demands require the basic ability to walk, talk, hear, reach, sit, lift (10 pounds) and have basic use of your hands.
3. Are any changes needed in the recorder's office?
I have spoken to many citizens who would like to see some change in this office. Currently the office offers free searches within the office. In this age of electronic submission and retrieval of sensitive documents, I would like to see the office offer free online searches. While state law requires a fee for print copies, this office should have the capabilities to view documents online free of charge and later charge for any copies printed. This process needs to be streamlined.
Also have a process that will eliminate third party for online searches. Currently a third party "Tapestry by Fidlar" orchestrates the online recording process. I see this as a form of third party ownership of our county documents. My point being, having our own database for e-recording and processing will keep the revenue in our county.
What are the costs associated with this?
The Illinois State Statutes cites in HB0552, pg. 5 Lines:
"A special fund shall be set up by the treasurer of the county and such funds collected pursuant to Public Act 83-1321 shall be used (1) for a document storage system to provide the equipment, materials and necessary expenses incurred to help defray the costs of implementing and maintaining such a document records system and (2) for a system to provide electronic access to those records."
If our county has been in fact collecting funds for this purpose it is not being used efficiently because it is not reflected in the system that has been in place for quite some time.
In the information age, keeping up with the last technology and how it can simplify the process is important. I do not find the current system user-friendly or the best use of county funds.
4. Does the office need a budget increase, or is a budget cut required?
After reviewing the budget it appears that the office's budget is reflective of the housing market and the decrease in documents recorded. Currently the budget has decreased over the past few years based on projected documents to be recorded. When more documents are recorded than projected, this means more revenue. However, I do not see a need to raise or lower the budget. While I am hopeful the housing market will change, any revenue generated by the change should offset any additional expense associated with the increase in documents.
5. Are state legislative changes needed to help the office run more efficiently?
Yes, by clearly stating in the law that all land records recorded in the state should pass through the county recorder's office to be deemed legal and valid. You would think that this is already possible, then why is MERS supported as an option to document recording and processing? Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, otherwise known as MERS, has been in many discussions on mortgage foreclosures. Often created by banks these third party mortgage process firms operate in the best interest of the banks. By bypassing the recorder's office, counties lose revenue otherwise made on recording fees. MERS is currently under fire by many counties for revenue loss. Many counties are always looking for new revenue; this is revenue that should be recovered for the county.
6. Do you think the office should be consolidated into another county office? Why or why not?
No, I do not think this office should be consolidated. This office is a single entity unto itself, and the duties are unique to this office, not duplicated and should not be outsourced.
7. Should the recorder remain an elected office? Why or why not?
Yes, this office should remain an elected office. The nature of the documents held in this office requires the support of the electorate. If an elected official fails to demonstrate the ability to meet the needs of the electorate, they should be removed by the electorate.