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updated: 10/10/2012 5:10 AM

Cook recorder of deeds candidates agree on overhaul

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  • Sherri Griffith, left, and Karen Yarbrough.

      Sherri Griffith, left, and Karen Yarbrough.

 
 

Both candidates for Cook County recorder of deeds make it clear that no matter who wins, the office needs a major overhaul.

Democrat Karen Yarbrough of Maywood, state representative for Illinois House 7th District, and sales and marketing professional Sherri Griffith, of Chicago, agreed that the office's website needs to be revamped, new software needs to be installed and staffing efficiencies need to be made.

The women are running for a 4-year term that will begin in December, replacing Recorder of Deeds Eugene "Gene" Moore, who is not seeking re-election after almost 14 years in office.

The key difference between the two is Griffith's lack of political experience, which she views as a plus.

"Not having political ties and being new to politics, I believe I would have a much fresher look upon the office and how it can be run much better for the people of Cook County, the taxpayers," the Republican said.

"I think it would be important to take the politics out of that particular office because I don't believe it belongs there," she added. "I believe it just needs to be cleaned up, made efficient and run more from a business standpoint."

Both candidates say that before deciding what changes they would make in the office they first want to get in there and see how it is running.

Yarbrough said she would hire people who have the right skill set to do a good job, not because of politics.

"This whole thing with political hiring and what have you, that's way down into a minimum because when you're hiring, firing and disciplining that compliance officer is sitting right in the office with you, and people get a fair shake now," she said, adding that she hopes the office will be trusted enough in the future that it can eliminate the compliance officer.

Yarbrough said at one point the office had more than 400 people, but now there are less than 200. She said as technology is used more there may not be a need for as many employees, but she would like to see certain areas of the office, like the anti-fraud department, have more qualified workers.

"There are people being harmed who don't even know they're being harmed," she said. "My message is if you think you own your home, check your deed."

"We've got to have a recorder's office that's doing the job, that sees these things when they come in and questions them," she added.

Griffith said the anti-fraud department needs to be improved but doesn't need more workers.

"I think it's much more important to keep it more efficient, make sure that the first time around things are done correctly," she said.

She said overall people in the office may need to be let go or moved to other county offices.

"I believe there are too many managers and too many supervisors doing the same job," she said. "There's a duplication of duties by employees as well."

Both Griffith and Yarbrough agreed that they would not like to see the office merge entirely into another county office, such as the Cook County clerk's office, but they are open to possibly moving some functions to a different office if it makes sense.

A website upgrade is on the to-do list for both women. Griffith said the website is "a horribly inefficient, ineffective and at times inaccurate system that's been in place." Yarbrough said the website was recently changed, but for the average person it is still "cumbersome" to use. She said making residents travel to the downtown or satellite offices because they can't get answers online is "ridiculous."

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