Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger and challenger Pat Cothran traded sometimes tense words this morning during a Council of Independent Business Owners forum.
Reisinger, who was chosen by the Buncombe County Democratic Party to fill the remainder of retiring register Otto DeBruhl’s term in 2011, is running to keep the spot this year. Reisinger, who had managed campaigns for several Democratic candidates, has touted increasing use of technology and better practices “that make it a little more efficient, a little bit more effective,” including allowing remote recording of documents, improving the ease of locating them and allowing for credit and debit card payment.
“The goal is to bring in new technology to make it easier to use the services at the Register of Deeds office,” he said. “While I was appointed, I’m running on my record.”
Cothran, the Republican candidate and owner of a real estate title insurance company, said her experience makes her better suited for the job.
“I’m familiar not only with real estate, but how to run a business; for 26 years I’ve been in the real estate title insurance business,” Cothran said. “I have worked on a daily basis,” with the documents in the register’s office. She pointed out that while an elected position, since 1918 all new register of deeds in Buncombe had been appointed to fill positions vacated by retirement or death.
“They’ve all run after their appointment, but as we know, the incumbent has an edge and this is a very Democratic county,” Cothran added. “It should be an elected position, and that’s why I’m running: to elect a new Register of Deeds.”
Cothran asked Reisinger what qualifications he had for the position before taking office.
“For the past year and a half I’ve been your Buncombe County Register of Deeds, we’ve been able to make things more efficient for taxpayers,” Reisinger said, citing that the office made $100,000 more in fiscal year 2011 while spending $600,000 less. “So we’re working diligently to make things better for taxpayers, to make things more efficient and I feel confident that as I’m running on my record, that that’s what we’ll do for four more years.”
After his response, Cothran replied that “I’d like for the candidate to answer my question.”
“I appreciate you pushing that issue,” Reisinger said. “I was appointed to this position because I brought real ideas to the table. The difference between myself and my opponent is that I am bringing real ideas to the table,” emphasizing making debit and credit card payments possible as well as redacting social security numbers from documents to better protect private information in the register’s office.
Cothran repeated her question a third time, but the moderator cut her off.
Reisinger then noted that “he’d heard a lot of negative things thrown our way” about some of the technological changes he’d made.
“What I’ve yet to hear from you is what you would do to make things better or what you disagree with about what we’ve already done,” he noted.
“I would bring my many years of experience and knowledge in working with the register of deeds office,” Cothran responded. “Your property rights are the most important thing. Technology is wonderful, when it works, I embrace technology, it is not the end-all,be-all, and it is not something I would depend on to do a job I don’t understand. I understand the fundamentals in the Register of Deed’s office.”
Cothran also asserted that “this is position for me is not a political stepping stone,” and that “I can’t stress enough how passionate I am about the records that are recorded in that office.” She said she’s received complaints from attorneys and paralegals that searches and document printing don’t always work.
“I’m not a real estate attorney, I don’t claim to be a real estate attorney,” Reisinger said in his closing statement, adding that his record is proof of his capability at the job. “We’ve got wide support from the paralegal community, we’ve got wide support from the legal community, we’ve got wide support from the genealogical society. We feel confident that if they’re supporting us, we’re doing a great job.”