Karen Yarbrough: Candidate Profile
Cook Recorder of deeds
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Cook Recorder of deeds
Family: Married, six children, twelve grandchildren
Occupation: Illinois State Representative -- 7th District
Education: B.A. in Business Management - Chicago State University M.A. in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University.
Civic involvement: Proviso Township Democratic Org Cook County Democratic Party Director, Maywood Chamber of Commerce Director, The Way Back Inn
Elected offices held: State Representative for the 7th District of Illinois since 2000; party leadership for two years. State Central Committeewoman for the 7th Congressional District since 2004. Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman since 2002.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Change public perception of the Recorder's Office. Create a user-friendly Recorder's Office that is efficient, operates with up-to-date technology and is well managed.
Key Issue 2
Make the Recorder's Office a key advocate for homeowners in Cook County by assuring that documents filed are quickly accessible.
Educate the public on how to look up and review their homeowner documentation.
Key Issue 3
Enhanced the Mortgage Fraud Unit within the Office to combat the filing of fraudulent and deceptive documents and recommend legislative changes where necessary.
What changes would you propose to improve the operation of the office of the recorder of deeds' Why?
The Cook County Recorder's Office has underperformed for many years. The Office needs a leader who can take on the tough task of improving the delivery of services and creating an Office that is an advocate for homeowner's. I also believe this Office could reduce the burden on taxpayers by realigning user fees based on volume. However, the Office must be able to provide timely, efficient and professional customer service.
I will meet and work with key user-groups to improve the level of service the Office is providing and at the same time increase the income generated by the services provided.
What is your view of the recorder of deeds' web site? What, if any, changes would you recommend to improve it?
The website is outdated. It needs to be brought up to 21st Century standards by mirroring best practices of other Recorder's offices. One of my top priorities will be to revamp the website to assure that documents are timely filed and easily accessible.
I want to assure that property owners, title companies and others can readily access information relating to real estate and educate them to regularly check the data for accuracy and to eliminate the filing of fraudulent documents.
What changes in office operations do you propose to improve transparency and public access'
Enhance the website and its accessibility to the public as addressed in the previous question, introduce verification procedures in the filing process to eliminate filing of fraudulent documents; implement procedures that assure timely access to documents, including the ability to electronically file and remotely access documents.
Work to eliminate systems such as MERS that prevent the recording of every title transfer within the Recorder's office and make it difficult for homeowners to identify the titleholder to their properties.
What improvements should be made to the office's and the county's ethics rules' What is your view of whether employees should be able to donate to the recorder? What should the office's policy be on nepotism and why?
When I am elected to be the Cook County Recorder, my office will comply with current ethical standards and work with the Board President to improve the standards where necessary.
I believe that employees are also citizens with rights to participate in the electoral process and to gainful employment.
I am uncomfortable telling employees to which candidates they can or cannot donate.
I also want to judge employees on the merit of their work.
I will not employ people who will not work the hardest for the taxpayers of Cook County, regardless of their affiliation or family and I will not encourage or tolerate pay to play politics in the Recorder's Office.
Can this office meet budget goals set forth by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle without compromising services' Is so, how? If not, what alternative do you propose?
When the Cook County Recorder's FY 2012 budget is released by the Budget office, I will examine it line by line and recommend whatever changes are necessary to eliminate waste and duplication of services. It is my goal to manage the Office within the budget. I intend to focus on on improving productivity and doing what is necessary to make the Office user-friendly; however I feel it would be premature to suggest alternatives until I have had an opportunity to review the budget and weigh the options.
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