Two candidates in the Republican primary for Lake County recorder of deeds say they want to explore whether the office can be abolished and merged with another to save money.
Bob Bednar of Mundelein will face Marty Blumenthal of Highland Park in the March 20 primary.
Longtime Democratic Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer doesn't have a primary opponent, so the GOP winner will face her in the November general election.
Bednar and Blumenthal appeared at a Daily Herald editorial board interview when they recently spoke about the concept of blending the recorder of deeds duties into the Lake County clerk's office.
Functions of the office include recording of deeds and mortgages, as well as plats of subdivisions, liens, releases, ordinances, annexations and military discharge papers. Documents at the office date to 1844.
Some other Illinois counties already have eliminated stand-alone recorder of deeds offices in an effort to save taxpayers' money, the candidates noted.
One place that has happened is Tazewell County, where a proposition to eliminate the recorder's office was approved by voters in April 2011. The staff and duties of the office will be transferred to the county clerk beginning in November 2012.
Bednar said he would consult with the counties where the recorder of deeds no longer exists. He also said he would want employee input and won't look to put anyone out of work if elimination of the office were pursued.
"I don't think it should be an elected office," said Bednar, an insurance agent.
Blumenthal said he's already discussed the idea with Lake County Clerk Willard Helander and believes she's receptive to it.
To pursue such a move, Blumenthal said, he'd want to "get the office in shape" by having a lean staff and implementing as many technological advances as possible. He didn't provide a precise timeline for how long a changeover could take.
"It sounds like a hypothesis that should be pursued because there could be a lot of cost savings," said Blumenthal, an attorney and certified public accountant. "To me, that's what government should be about, delivering the best service for the least amount of cost. If we can do that, then I'm all for it."