DuPage County recorder: Democratic primary challengers say it’s time for change

The race for DuPage County recorder of deeds pits an incumbent, a longtime Democrat and a new convert in a three-way race to be their party’s nominee.

Incumbent Kathleen Carrier, DuPage County Board member Liz Chaplin, and former county board member Pete DiCianni are the candidates running in the Democratic primary for the recorder position. Whoever wins the March 19 primary will square off against Republican Nicole Prater in the November election.

Carrier’s primary challengers say the office has become stagnant and needs new leadership.

“Normally, I would never primary an incumbent Democrat,” said Chaplin, a Downers Grove Democrat who has served on the county board since 2012. “But I feel that this position ... we haven’t utilized all the opportunities there are in this office.

“This office is ready for positive change,” she said, adding there have been little to no improvements in the office since Carrier became the first Democrat elected as recorder in 2020. “If we’re going to let Democrats just keep the status quo, why elect Democrats?”

DiCianni, a former Republican running as a Democrat for the first time in his political career, echoed a similar sentiment, saying the office, once considered a “gold standard” under previous administrations, has lagged in innovation and efficiency in the last few years.

DiCianni served on the DuPage County Board from 2012 to 2022 and as Elmhurst mayor from 2009 to 2012.

“We’ve slipped,” the Elmhurst Democrat said, adding employees have expressed concerns about the recorder’s office. “It’s morale, it’s hiring, it’s putting the right people in the right places, it’s reorganizing the office.”

For her part, Carrier, who is seeking her second term in office, said she still has recorders in other counties contacting her office for advice or to hear what they are doing. The veteran’s fair, started by her predecessor, has been expanded, and she worked with technology companies to update software.

Her predecessor, Fred Bucholz, was in office for 16 years. Carrier acknowledges some of the changes she made may have ruffled some feathers.

“Change is hard,” she said. “Some people were not happy, and they did not leave.”

She rebuffed Chaplin’s criticism of some of her policies, such as no cellphone usage during office hours, saying people need to focus on work. DiCianni agreed, saying employees at his office can only use their cellphones on their personal time, such as during office breaks or lunch.

“I don’t allow cellphone use,” said Carrier, a Carol Stream Democrat.

She said employees have two 15-minute breaks and an hour lunch break where they can check their personal phones.

“I’m not going to apologize for that,” Carrier said. “It’s not unreasonable, and it’s not something that’s shocking.”

Chaplin, however, said allowing people to have their cellphones on their desk or earbuds in to listen to music could help boost morale and does not have to interfere with work.

Chaplin and DiCianni both suggest the recorder’s office could be more active in the community and on social media.

The recorder’s office is the keeper of all property records, such as mortgages, liens and transfers. It also maintains military discharge records. Residents can also enroll in a fraud alert program, which lets them know when someone has pulled up information about their property.

The office also offers a veteran’s rewards program, providing veterans discounts at participating benefits.

DiCianni and Chaplin said those programs need to be better publicized.

Carrier, whose office does not have any social media accounts, said she has publicized events through local media and through her own office. She added not everyone uses social media.

She added that her office has continued the veteran’s resource fair that started under her predecessor. Last year, the event drew 300 veterans, she said. Her office also has hosted a workshop to make senior citizens aware of scams and has participated in various expos to help get the word out about her office.

“Just because I’m not bombastic doesn’t mean things aren’t happening,” she said.

Chaplin and DiCianni, however, countered that being involved in the community and on social media helps spread awareness of programs that some may not know about.

“There are so many benefits to this office, but no one really knows about it,” said Chaplin, who said she would work to increase the office’s presence in the community and on social media.

DiCianni said he would hire a veteran to help run the services offered to veterans through the recorder’s office.

“You have to understand, put people in the right places so they can put the word out for you,” he said.

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