Drew Reisinger (I), Democrat
Place of residence: West Asheville
Occupation: Buncombe County Register of Deeds
Political experience: Buncombe County Register of Deeds, 2011-present
Endorsements: The Sierra Club; Land of Sky Association of Realtors; WNC Central Labor Council
Amount of money raised: $12,382
Top three donors and amount contributed: The Ellen Frost Campaign, $750; Rev. Jim Curl, $650; Buzz Berry, Todd Williams and the NC Realtors PAC each donated $500.
Why are you running?
My experience as Buncombe County’s Register of Deeds has been rewarding, and there is still more that we can do to improve the lives of the citizens of Buncombe County and make it easier to do business here. As the Register of Deeds, I am privileged to interact with people throughout their lives: recording deeds of people’s property, providing marriage licenses for loving couples and maintaining birth certificates for our newest residents. I take this job very seriously, and I am running to continue my record of increased efficiency, excellent customer service and responsible use of taxpayer dollars.
Should the Register of Deeds be an elected position or hired by county administration based on academic and professional qualifications?
Our office is funded through taxpayer dollars, and we are charged with protecting the most vital documents of our citizens. I feel that it is important for citizens to have a voice in who carries this responsibility in order to maintain accountability and transparency.
What fee would you consider lowering, and how could you do so without affecting service?
Fees in our office are set by state statute; therefore, it is not possible for me to lower fees. However, I have worked to reduce our office’s budget by implementing technology and streamlining services. Since I took office in 2011, Buncombe County has since seen a significant increase in real estate recordings. We have managed this increase by providing more efficient services. Under my tenure, revenues are up, and expenditures are down. We were one of the first counties in North Carolina to give citizens the ability to order documents online. Many counties have followed suit but have added additional fees. Our prices have remained the same while adding new, convenient services for our citizens.
Beyond preservation, how would you proactively contribute to community’s sense of history?
My office was the first in the nation to digitize our county’s slave records and make them easily accessible to the public. This allows students and researchers to better understand the impact that slavery had on our region, while also assisting African-Americans in tracing their genealogy. I am currently working with our state archivist to create an online database of all North Carolina slave records. In my first term in office, we completed a digitization project of all of our county’s birth, marriage, death and real estate records. Record preservation keeps us safe from natural disaster, increases transparency and is a vital part of my responsibility as your Register of Deeds.
What service can be better modernized and/or improved, and how would you do so?
Over the past five years, I have modernized our office by implementing eRecording, allowing citizens to request marriage and birth records online, and scanning more than 7 million documents. With this massive digitization effort, we also took on an equally challenging effort to redact all sensitive information from our online database, such as Social Security numbers, to protect our citizens from identity theft. My office has consistently been a statewide leader in implementing new technology, and as technology continues to evolve, we will collaborate with other state and local government offices to ensure that the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office is a leader in our state and nation.
Is there a situation where it is appropriate for the Register of Deeds to make political statements that affects the service the office provides? If so, please provide an example. If not, why?
As an elected representative, I do believe that there are times when it is important to stand up for what I believe in, especially when the consequences could to lead inequality or unfair treatment of our citizens. When the N.C. legislature passed SB2, allowing Register of Deeds employees to opt out of giving same-sex marriage licenses, I felt that it was vital for me to express my commitment to equality and to let our citizens know that regardless of their sexual orientation, they would be treated with dignity and respect in my office. As a result of this, same-sex couples from surrounding counties traveled to Asheville to apply for their marriage licenses because they knew they would be treated with respect.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
In the five years I have been in office, we have achieved many firsts: We were the first office in the state to offer Spanish translation services in-person and online, the first county in the U.S. to digitize our slave records, we are one of the few counties in the country who eRecords plats, and we are the first to allow new mothers to request birth certificates directly from the hospital. In addition, I have been elected to the executive committee of N.C. Association of Registers of Deeds and serve as the chair of the Western District. Under my leadership, Buncombe County will continue to have the most cutting-edge, user-friendly Register of Deeds office in the state.