In the race for Lexington County Register of Deeds, will try to fend off a rare challenge by newcomer Dan Gregory.
The Lexington County Register of Deeds (ROD) office is a recording and public service office. The primary function of the ROD office is to record, maintain and preserve all land records for the County and make them readily available for public viewing.
All recording of documents must be in accordance with South Carolina laws and County ordinances. Documents recorded by the ROD office include deeds, mortgages, mortgage satisfactions, powers of attorney, mechanic’s liens, tax liens, plats, uniform commercial code filings and other real property transactions.
The ROD office also assists the public with inquiries concerning land records.
Name: Dan Gregory
Occupation: Manager of a seven person Department in the Richland County Treasurer’s Office.
Prior experience: House and Senate - State Reorganization Commission, SC Budget & Control Board - Office of Research and Statistical Services, SC State Senate – Legislative Aide to the President Pro Tempore and Senate Finance Committee Chairman, SC Governors Office of Executive Policy and Programs – State Office of Victim Assistance. Also a prior small business owner and operator.
Family: No answer
Education: Graduate of Irmo High School and the University of South Carolina.
Why are you seeking this office?
I have been a resident of Lexington County going on forty years and I have been involved in various governmental positions for many years and after studying the Register of Deeds office and its budget, I found numerous things that need improvement for the betterment of the office and ultimately for the citizens of Lexington County and I feel that I can make a positive difference for my home county and its citizens by utilizing my varied skills in this office.
The current incumbent, Debra M (Debbie) Gunter, has lost touch with her customers and the problems in the office that should have been addressed years ago to the detriment of the records she is entrusted with and ultimately the public’s funds which have now been wasted on inefficient systems in the past for too long a time span due to her slow response and inaction at a cost of tens of thousands of your dollars over time.
What makes you the best person for the job?
Since this office is a government office the person who is the Register of Deeds should ideally have a governmental administrative background as well as an understanding of the Register of Deeds office’s responsibilities and functions in government. I feel I meet these two crucial requirements since I do have a varied background in governmental management and service at the state level for thirteen years and now at the county level for nine years.
I also have direct knowledge and experience of the Register of Deeds office’s responsibilities and functions as one who currently manages the day to day abstracting of properties and the deeding of properties and working with the various professionals (attorneys, land surveyors, developers, abstractors) dealing with real estate matters outside the office as well as the handling of court cases dealing with real estate.
I have always been a person who likes to study efficiency and effectiveness measures and this office certainly needs a facelift in that regard as one of its major problems it faces now.
I also will not let the position go to my head and to feel somehow that since I have held the position for numerous years I am now entitled to certain things that the public should pay for my enjoyment.
I will not as an incumbent feel that “I know it all” and that my “years of experience” trumps common sense solutions to problems that have been pointed out to me by customers of the office and that I then do not act on at all or I am slow to act on to the detriment of the whole office and ultimately the public’s trust.
Explain the importance of the Register of Deeds position to county residents:
The Register of Deeds office affects all of the residents of Lexington County since all of our historical land records and the documents that affect our property are housed in this office. The very core of our ownership of property that we hold so dear as our basic private property rights can be adversely affected by the action or inaction of who is entrusted with this office.
What areas of the office will you seek to focus on and what do you hope to accomplish in your term?
I want to fix the current disconnect between the Register of Deeds office and its customers by setting up a non-formal committee of various users of the office to constantly get feedback on how we are doing and what we need to be focusing on in the office.
I want to set up actual quantifiable goals that are currently lacking to judge and see if we are properly serving the public and businesses now and in the future that rely solely on the office and to also ensure we are being good caretakers of the public’s funds.
I also want the office and the web site to be more user friendly and to study to see if our services can be less costly to those who use the office.
What should the Register of Deeds do in the next term to improve efficiency?
The staff need to be treated with respect and dignity and to make them a part of the decision making process as much as possible as most people know it is the employee on the front lines who handles things day in and day out that know how to do things more efficiently and effectively and what ideas need to be implemented to make things better.
I have a management style that allows common sense to prevail in decision making processes and I will listen to the staff and any user of the office who can make the office better for the public and businesses that use the office.
I personally realize that it is all about the public and the people who rely on us for the information we are the caretakers of and not for my own political gain or agenda that can adversely affect the office as a whole as is the norm currently being practiced in that office.
What do you think should be done in order to serve clients better?
Absolutely make sure there are always enough staff on hand to help customers in-house and to efficiently and effectively process the documents that we’re entrusted with as a department.
The answer is not the current losing proposition to cut staffing levels as the housing market is starting to pick up and to not go down the route the incumbent has been taking by cutting staff which common sense tells anyone will mean less help for customers or greater timeframes for processing important documents that will increase as the housing market continues to get better.
People are already complaining that they cannot get documents completed in a timely fashion as it is and with the housing market getting better it will mean even more workload in the office. The current incumbent feels that she needs less people to do more and has cut her staff by two already. This is what I mean by common sense management decisions seem to be lacking which looks to be an ongoing problem.
I want to make sure that all documents in the office that can be scanned are eventually scanned in order to protect the original documents from handling and eventually allowing their viewing online. Currently only documents themselves can be viewed or printed that were filed in the office starting in January, 1998.
Also, unfortunately, there are original documents that have been damaged over the years and the incumbent is just now talking about fixing this problem. Again, too little, too late, as they say. Once an original document is damaged the information contained is gone forever if it is not protected or backed up in some fashion.
Are there any other comments you'd like to make or would like to discuss something not raised in our questions?
Finally, looking at the incumbent's FY 2013 requested budget and some of the things that are in there directly for her benefit, I personally do not like the public paying for a smart cell phone at a cost of approximately $600 a year as is done now for the incumbent. If it is not against some county policy, I will turn in the county phone and only use my own smart cell phone at my own cost.
I also will not spend the current $1,000 that is put into the office’s budget for the incumbent to go to Myrtle Beach for a conference every year which she states is necessary due to her co-leadership role on a committee for an association she belongs to nor will I use an additional $500 put in the budget for her to attend a mid-year conference later in the year as well. If I need to attend a conference I will do it on my own dime.
I will instead utilize this money, which is your money, for the betterment of what the office can do for you its customers and not for my own personal enjoyment on your dime.
Needless to say it is definitely time for a change in the leadership of this office, and I would ask for your vote and support on Tuesday, June 12 in the Republican Primary to make sure that much needed change occurs for the betterment of your office of the Register of Deeds in Lexington County. Thank you.