Emilia Czyszczon: Candidate profile, Lake County recorder of deeds
Republican Emilia Czyszczon of Deerfield is taking on incumbent Democrat Mary Ellen Vanderventer of Waukegan for Lake County recorder of deeds.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A. I am running for Lake County Recorder of Deeds to help streamline efficiencies in our local community government.
Lake County and the state of Illinois are in desperate need of new leadership. To bring our communities into the future, we need to bring a new approach to government and how it is run.
Since deciding to run for this position, I have pledged to eliminate the office of recorder of deeds and consolidate it with the office of the Lake County Clerk to help the residents of Lake County lower their tax burden and drive governmental efficiency with smaller government.
In Lake County, we are one of the few remaining counties that still has a separate recorder of deeds office and elected position. Many counties have eliminated and consolidated the recorder's office with the clerk's office. Decisions driving many counties have been centered around not being able to meet the population requirement to have this position and office within their counties.
Larger counties such as Cook and McHenry have consolidated the office in recent years -- this concept is not unique to the smaller counties of Illinois.
Q. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
A. I would like to explore the synergies between all real estate/property records and transactions.
Currently, multiple offices touch real estate/property records in different capacities, including the recorder of deeds', clerk's, and the treasurer's offices.
If a member of the Lake County community has multiple needs regarding real estate/property records and transactions, the individual must interact with multiple offices to take care of his or her matters.
Q. Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the recorder of deeds' office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A. According to public records and statements made by the current Lake County Recorder of Deeds, the Recorder's budget has been cut every single year. Head count has been reduced and the ability to offer high quality customer service has continued and been awarded by external organizations.
Three areas of consideration to review are people, process and technology. To ensure that employees can stay competitive and employable across county offices, cross-training across offices and record types is vital, especially as we begin to explore the consolidation of the recorder's and clerk's offices.
Processes should be documented and re-evaluated for additional efficiencies as we look to consolidate the office. New technology and systems should be investigated to expand records and transactions related to real estate/property records across offices.
Q. Name one concrete program you'll create or personnel move you'll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.
A. In preparation for consolidation, it will be imperative to cross-train personnel in both the recorder of deeds office and the clerk's office to improve efficiencies in the future office. Based on demand, personnel from both offices will be able to assist one another in responsibilities and workload across different systems and record types. Current training in both offices would be evaluated and gaps would need to be addressed to ensure all personnel have the same level of proficiency and knowledge required across office responsibilities.
Q. Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A. It is important for the public to be able to access real estate/property records in whichever office these records are housed.
Due to COVID, there have been restrictions for people to be able to visit the office and conduct their own research from the records. Online access fees had been temporarily removed for the same research. The recorder's office brings in a profit many times its operating budget.
While recording fees are mandated by state of Illinois statutes, online research access fees vary by county. Some counties do not have online research access fees. I would propose eliminating the online research fee.
Q. If voters approve a referendum on the November ballot, the recorder's office could be a 2-year term. How would you prepare for the possibility the office will be eliminated (recorder candidate) or added to your duties (clerk)?
A. The Lake County Recorder of Deeds Office and the Lake County Clerk's Office have a great working relationship. Both offices manage documents and records. In preparation for the elimination and consolidation, it would be important to review current personnel responsibilities, systems and people training, and review and update current and future processes.
Any synergies that can be realized both in the short and long term should be explored, including any technologies that could merge records to one system. Two years would give enough time to look at the current state of both offices, propose people, process, and technology updates, and begin implementation of the future state of the combined offices before the term ends.
Q. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, going forward, do you see needed staffing or equipment improvements/reductions/changes? Does/will how services are provided have to fundamentally and permanently change as a result? What do you suggest?
A. To ensure safety of staff and customers, precautions should be taken into consideration. If possible based on disinfection, cleaning, and social distancing in between customers and staff, customers should be allowed to conduct their own research on-site and meet in person with staff. If not possible due to space, volume, and budget for cleaning and disinfection, the opportunity for customers to schedule appointments to be on-site should be made possible.
Additionally, if face-to-face interactions with staff are not possible, online video conferencing should be made available for these meetings.
To protect staff, the opportunity to work remotely should be made possible by allowing system access and customer service to be conducted remotely. Flexibility around working remotely should be given to those who need child and elderly care and those with underlying health conditions that may be at risk.
Furthermore, online access fees should be removed for customers wanting to conduct research remotely.