Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Response from Sharon Quigley Carpenter, Candidate for St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds

1. What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position? What experience/attribute do you have that qualify you for this position?

The office of Recorder of Deeds requires, first and foremost, that we are custodians of an individual’s most important records, birth, death, marriage and property. These records are kept in perpetuity. Therefore, as we can provide data from 200 years ago, that which is recorded today must be available 200 years from now. I brought to the office a strong regard for history (having been a social studies teacher) and a clear understanding of the importance of the documents entrusted to the Recorder by the citizen.

2. Why do you think you are the best person for this position? What differentiates you from your opponents?

I would not be seeking re-election if I didn’t believe I will serve the citizens in the best possible way. Naturally, my experience sets me apart from my opponents. Recording has changed through the years and I’ve been allowed the opportunity to be a leader in bringing these changes to the office. I look forward to the continued progress in recording. The City Recorder’s office is recognized for efficiency and for the professional, courteous service provided by the knowledgeable staff. The laws governing the Recorder’s responsibilities are set out in four chapters of state statutes along with more than one thousand references to additional responsibilities throughout Missouri State Statutes. This does not include the City Ordinances setting out additional duties for the Recorder. The Recorder’s office is far more complex than most individuals know.

3. 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)

Generating revenue is always important. But, to increase fees would require working with the Recorder’s Association of Missouri so the fee increases would be statewide. Any fee increases would go directly to general revenue. I will continue with the preservation projects underway including scanning records and entering data into our database which then becomes a part of the Recorder’s website. The website is an active part of our service to the public. Therefore it is always being reviewed and updated. Encapsulating asbestos in some record rooms would protect the original records and give more work space to move more quickly forward with the preservation program.

4. Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

As always, I will continue to work with all city and state agencies. Currently, many city agencies have access, at no charge, to Laredo, a land records system developed for professional users. Laredo gives the client access to the land record index and the ability to view and/or print a copy. Tapestry is a program for anyone who wishes to search. There is a $6.50 fee for access and the statutory fee to print the entire or any portion of a document. As we develop more capabilities, they will be made available. I would like to implement the E-Verify signature which awaits a ruling from the Organization of Secretaries of State. Something like this requires approvals, along with national standards currently being developed.

5. What services could this office offer citizens that it does not now offer?

One of the services I’ve applied for, but have not yet received, is that of passport application service. A Recorder of Deeds providing that service is not usual, but it would be efficient and convenient to citizens, especially in the City of St. Louis where the Recorder’s office provides birth records and marriage licenses.

6. How can this office improve the economic strength of the city?
As stated before, increase in fees is the first agenda item. Second, have the city attorneys review the recently passed prohibition on any form of transfer tax. If it is limited to a property tax established by the state, possibly a local tax could be set by city ordinance. This tax must be small so as not to interfere with the desirability of purchasing property in the city. This, coupled with the lower staffing in the Recorder’s office, made possible by maintaining “state of the art” technologies, should be of help.

7. Do you believe this office can help address the issues of racial and economic inequality in the city? If yes, how?

The Recorder’s office is an example of racial/economic equality. Color has nothing to do with promotions or pay. The quality of an individual’s work is the single and most important element for Recorder’s employees to succeed. In addition, working with the principal of Beaumont High School, which has a program for at risk students, the Recorder’s office is hiring students who are to be paid to learn preservation techniques, scanning and data entry. These students must observe the rules of the office and are being mentored by volunteer staff members. The goal is for these students to succeed and have a positive experience in our office environment. It is my hope to expand the program, but first space to work must be made safe by asbestos remediation. The remediation is in process, with the building facilities department gathering methods and fees.

8. Are there functions of this office that are now obsolete and can be eliminated or combined for efficiency?

The Recorder’s office is run very efficiently. With less than 40 employees, each department is specified and operated with knowledgeable and courteous clerks. Vital records alone generates an average of $75,000.00 - $80,000.00 per month which then becomes part of the City’s general revenue.

9. Should this office continue to be an elected office? Why or why not?

This office should remain an elected office so citizens can have a say as to who they want to be represented by. After all, it is their right to vote.

10. How are you working/would you work to make this office a 21st Century office?

The Recorder’s office is constantly updating and has moved rapidly into the 21st century with advancements in internet technology and improvement of document availability. We have made many great strides already and still working on implementing new ideas every day.

11. Should the Recorder of Deeds keep the responsibility for Vital Records in its office? Why or why not?

It is very important to keep Vital Records in the Recorder’s office. Within the last 4 years we have provided over 3 ½ million birth and death certificates to citizens. Plus it is convenient for people updating driver licenses, I.D.’s etc. because the offices are all in the same building. This office holds birth and death records pertaining to the city going back to pre-1910. Why lose all that’s already been carefully recorded and preserved?

12. 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.)

My question would have to be why do you think you can operate this office better than I? I have been recorder for over 30 years. I know this office up and down, inside and out and with 30 years of experience I am the most qualified. I am a leader in bringing progress to this office.

13. Who are your 3 largest campaign contributors? Are there donors from whom you will not accept campaign contributions?

I have no large campaign contributors. All of my contributions come by way of individuals from fundraisers or through small gatherings. I would reject contributions from any suspected illegal dealings or anyone associated with negative or controversial publicity.

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