Experience is main distinction in Lake County recorder race
Experience versus a fresh perspective is the main distinction between the candidates in the race for Lake County recorder of deeds, an office that may not exist as a separate entity in two years.
Incumbent Democrat Mary Ellen Vanderventer, who was elected in 1996, is seeking a seventh term. She touts her record of reducing the budget every year while upgrading technology and keeping the tradition of personal service.
She is challenged by Republican Emilia Czyszczon, who is making her first run for public office. The Deerfield resident, who is a consultant and project manager in the life sciences field, says she is running to streamline efficiencies and bring a new approach to government.
The recorders office is responsible for keeping documents relating to real estate transactions, ordinances and annexations, liens and releases, articles of incorporation, military service discharge papers and more.
Both candidates support consolidating the recorder's office with the Lake County clerk's office, which oversees elections and maintains birth, marriage, death and other records. If approved by voters Nov. 3, the offices would merge by Dec. 1, 2022.
Vanderventer describes the office, which has a library of 7 million documents, as the "best-kept secret around."
"I've done a really good job and I'm good at it," she said. Vanderventer, who served 10 years as county election administrator, said she also is the most qualified to oversee the potential consolidation based on her experience running both offices.
"There's no time for on-the-job training," she said.
Czyszczon agrees Vanderventer has done an "excellent" job in office but said she has a unique perspective regarding what works in terms of "people, processes and technology" and has had success dealing with mergers.
Cross-training across offices and record types is vital to ensure employees are competitive and employable across county offices, Czyszczon said.
Vanderventer noted that all recorder employees already have been cross-trained and have been assisting the clerk's office, which has been inundated with vote-by-mail information.
Czyszczon said new technology and systems should be investigated to expand the availability of records and transactions across offices.
Vanderventer said 50% of daily transactions are done electronically. Information is recorded, indexed, archived and made available the same day. More tools for e-recording are needed, she added.
Czyszczon suggested waiving fees for online research.
Vanderventer said fees were waived from March through July, but the current $5 charge for a 24-hour period is "really reasonable." The office relies on fees since no taxpayer funds are used or collected, she added.
Both agree the public generally isn't aware of the services and information offered by the recorder's office.
Czyszczon said she would consider enhancing the office's digital presence.
Vanderventer cited "Good Deeds For You," a cable show (also available online) that has run for 22 years and covers a variety of topics, as well as regular talks at clubs, associations, senior events and elsewhere as of examples of providing public information and education.
"We're out there a lot," she said.