Should recorder’s office be eliminated in DuPage County? Candidates weigh in

Not long ago, Liz Chaplin supported an idea that could have abolished the recorder of deeds office in DuPage County.

In 2019, the longtime DuPage County Board member pushed for a plan to have voters decide whether the recorder's office should merge with the county clerk's office.

But now Chaplin is seeking to become the Democratic nominee for the recorder position. She is in a three-way primary race against incumbent Kathleen Carrier of Carol Stream and former county board member Pete DiCianni of Elmhurst.

Carrier is seeking her second term as recorder, while DiCianni, a former Republican, is running his first campaign as a Democrat.

Though Chaplin is no longer pushing the merger proposal, she says she would support putting the question on a ballot if the county board ever decided to take up the issue again.

However, the Downers Grove Democrat says she does not believe the current county board has the desire to pursue the topic anytime soon.

“The decision on this matter rests with the people of DuPage,” she wrote in a candidate questionnaire. “If the county board chooses to place the question on the ballot, I would support and respect that decision. My ultimate goal is to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective structure for our county government.”

In 2020, the Republican-led county board rescinded a resolution, which Chaplin pushed, to ask voters if the recorder’s office should be merged with the county clerk. The board nixed the resolution after a study showed there would not be significant cost savings to the merger.

Both DiCianni and Carrier maintain the recorder’s office should remain separate.

Carrier pointed to the study and said a merger could cost taxpayers more money.

She said someone would need to oversee the department and that county department heads often are paid more than county elected officials.

In addition, Carrier said merging the two offices would lessen oversight and eliminate voter choice for that position.

“DuPage County government is structured to have built in checks and balances,” she wrote in her questionnaire. “To merge the recorder’s office with another office you will lose that oversight.

“Merging the recorder’s office in a smaller county might make sense, but not in the second largest county (of Illinois),” she added.

DiCianni said the recorder’s office handles a large volume of documents and has a different role than the county clerk’s office.

The recorder’s office is responsible for all property records, including deeds, liens and plats, and some military records.

The county clerk’s office supervises elections, handles vital records such as birth and death certificates and serves as the clerk to the county board.

DiCianni said the clerk’s office has struggled after taking over the county election commission. And more recently, it had difficulty filing proper documentation so DuPage could receive its share of tax revenue from cannabis sales.

“I am on record as being against it when (a merger) was first brought up,” he said. “The two offices are doing two totally different things. This is too important of an office to politicize and consolidate.”

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