1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position?
I see two primary attributes (duties) for Recorder of Deeds:
A) Technology-while recording law does not proscribe methodology in this world of technological advances it is impertative to be forward thinking. Technology gives the opportunity to provide services to the professional user and the individual, never before considered possible.
B) Preservation-every document recorded is to be publicly held and available to the citizens. Whether the document is recorded in 2014 or if it was recorded in 1814, that document must be available today.
2. What education (schools attended, degrees attained), experience, and attributes do you have that qualify you for this position?
I have served as Recorder of Deeds since 1980. During that time the Recorder of Deeds office has come from a totally manual operation to a totally computerized operation. I’m a graduate of Bishop DuBourg High School and attended Harris Stowe. I taught sixth, seventh & eight grades in the Catholic Schools. I believe the management and organizational skills I developed while teaching were an asset from the beginning. My love of history along with the fact that I continue to enjoy learning new things it makes my job fun, with a strong dose of responsibility.
3. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponents?
Experience is the primary difference between myself and my opponents. The other difference is that I tend to be a “policy work person” by nature. Therefore, I tend to serve on committees that do background work on legislation and national issues that impact the Recorder’s Office throughout the country. (Co-Chair of the Legislation Committee for the Recorder of Deeds Association in MO.)
4. What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)
The congress several years ago authorized a national parallel recording system MERS, Mortgage Electronics Recording System. This system is sponsored by the major national banks along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This system records assignments as they are sold from one bank to another. This means the county where the property is located no longer knows who holds the deed of trust (mortgage), on occasion the property owner does not know who holds their deed of trust and of course the counties also loose revenue. Because MERS, unlike Recorders are not governed by law or public regulations, it has caused many problems for banks and property owners. During the past years property owners across the country have been foreclosed on in error. The financial institutions have had to pay out millions in settlements. Now, Fannie Mae and group are asking congress to pass legislation that would protect financial institutions from lawsuit. This is a small provision in a much larger piece of legislation. Working with the national committees to prevent passage of this proposed legislation is just one of the important issues I have been working on.
5. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.
It has been my policy to cooperate with all other city departments unless the request violates state statutory provisions. I have found that, building a case for why the proposal you make not only benefits your office but provides benefits and efficiencies for the City as a whole leads to positive conclusions. I also will continue to work with the RAM Association. (Recorder Association of Missouri)
6. What services could this office offer citizens that it does not now offer?
At this point, we are preparing to put older indexes on line. We are also exploring the cost of placing more property and marriage indexes on line. As you can imagine this would be an extremely large data base requiring a substantial investment in technology and manpower. But, if there is a way it will be accomplished. I have also passed a city ordinance to allow the Recorder of Deeds office to accept credit cards for payment. The ordinance is very beneficial to citizens of St. Louis.
7. How can this office improve the economic strength of the city?
By continually moving toward providing services wanted by business and by individuals. This is an office where revenue is dictated by the economy. The office cannot force people to do property transactions nor can we urge or demand that individuals marry.
8. Are there functions of this office that are now obsolete and can be eliminated or combined for efficiency?
I would have to say no to the question concerning obsolete or eliminating any service provided by the Recorder of Deeds office because, most small counties use to have Circuit Clerk/Recorder offices have split because it was necessary for efficiency.
This office provides basic services that impact the lives of our citizens, most personally. We provide the copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, property ownership and death certificates.
9. How are you working/would you work to make this office a 21st Century office?
The St. Louis Recorder of Deeds office is currently 21st century. Currently nearly 75% of the land recordings are done electronically. Our equipment is state of the art. The “Loyal Staff” is well trained. The staff is not only technology sound but work very hard to assist our customers. It is the rare day that I am not made aware of the excellent service provided by the Staff.
10. If you could ask each of your opponents one question, what would it be? (You may specify a different question for each opponent or the same question for both.)