Pat Cothran, Republican
Place of residence: Leicester
Occupation: Title insurance underwriter, insuring property documents recorded in the Register of Deeds office.
Political experience: 38 years of corporate business and leadership experience, which requires multiple political relationships
Endorsements: I did not seek political endorsements for this elected office because it is an apolitical position.
Amount of money raised: I’ve received donations from voters of all affiliations. Campaign finance reports are available to the public on the Board of Elections website.
Top three donors and amount contributed: Campaign finance reports are available to the public on the Board of Elections website.
Why are you running?
Because it matters. The citizens deserve an educated, experienced, accountable business professional and proven leader. The incumbent accepted special treatment from the county by taking health insurance coverage without the six-month waiting period required of all other county employees. He cost the taxpayers in excess of $600,000 when he closed the office for a day and a half without permission, ignoring clear rules of operations and accountability he must uphold. He ignored state open meeting laws by polling county commissioners. He challenged our constitution. He politicizes the office with his personal agendas. All this is well‐documented in the media. I’m running because his actions are intolerable. I will restore accountability, professionalism and integrity to our county’s Register of Deeds office.
Should the Register of Deeds be an elected position or hired by county administration based on academic and professional qualifications?
The purpose of N.C. General Statute 161, Article 3, is “to attract the most highly qualified talent available within the state to the position of register of deeds.” The public is best served by hiring the most highly qualified person in terms of pertinent academic training, proven successful private-sector experience and fully vetted professional qualifications. This ensures the office will run effectively and efficiently instead of suffering the wasteful and irresponsible mistakes made by the incumbent. Traditionally, register of deeds elections tend to be “endorsement races” — contests where political backing, connections and even backroom deals count more than qualifications for office. With the important duties performed by the ROD for all citizens, true qualifications matter more than political affiliation.
What fee would you consider lowering, and how could you do so without affecting service?
The county Register of Deeds has no dominion over the fee schedule; the N.C. General Assembly mandates fees. In fact, it recently passed Senate Bill 19, taking effect Oct. 1, to adjust the uniform fee for recording deeds of trust to comply with TILA‐RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID). NCGS 161‐10 (a) sets forth the purpose and amount of the fees to be collected “… which shall be uniform throughout the State.” As the Register of Deeds, I will examine the workload using queuing theory to determine appropriate staffing levels to maximize productivity and review vendor contracts to seek savings in operational costs. I cannot unilaterally lower fees, but I can improve service and accuracy for all our citizens.
Beyond preservation, how would you proactively contribute to community’s sense of history?
As a genealogist and historian, and a trustee at the historic Brick Church in Leicester for more than 20 years, where I descend from seven generations of ancestors who settled here in the 1800s (the incumbent is an Orlando native), I have a great appreciation for a sense of history. I spearheaded a cemetery project there to locate 418 unmarked graves of both white and African-American community members, which culminated in the placement of markers at each site. I would create an ad hoc advisory committee to initiate an online searchable database, by cemetery, of the names of those buried throughout our county, which would be linked to Ancestry.com and other research sites, making this historical data easily accessible.
What service can be better modernized and/or improved and how would you do so?
The incumbent touts some modernization as an accomplishment when, instead, that’s a basic duty of any leadership position. A leader does what is necessary to move the business forward, whether through technology, modernization, cost savings, etc. Going above and beyond is an accomplishment; simply fulfilling one’s job description is not. Failing to realize that the current practice of system updates during daytime working hours causes computer downtime for customers is simply irresponsible. I would change the update schedule to after‐hours only. Further, the incumbent ignores his fiduciary duties by failing to ensure accuracy in the scanned and indexed files of the user database. I would institute an audit procedure and rectify those existing errors to guarantee a better customer experience.
Is there a situation where it is appropriate for the Register of Deeds to make political statements that affect the service the office provides? If so, please provide an example. If not, why?
The position of Register of Deeds is best described as one of managerial leadership, providing services of recording, preserving and retrieving life’s important legal documents to all members of the public. The Register must conduct these duties within the existing laws and statutes of the state and county governments, and these services must absolutely be executed without regard to political affiliation or political bias. The Register of Deeds has no authority to set forth or enact any legislation at a local or state level. Therefore, the office should never be used as a public podium in support of any political agenda, used to make political statements or trounce on existing laws, all of which the incumbent has done.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
Buncombe County’s Register of Deeds directs a multimillion-dollar budget and oversees 16 employees. That office is a business that requires oversight by an experienced business professional. I am a Buncombe County native and small-business owner/jobs creator with unparalleled credentials for this position. The greatest portion of my life’s work taught me the intricacies of the Register’s office, the legal environment in which the office operates and the protection of our property rights through vigilance. My Master of Business Administration and Master of Entrepreneurship degrees have added to my extensive knowledge of business management. And I respect the constitution of this state. There is simply no one else better qualified to serve Buncombe County’s citizens as Register of Deeds.