Editor’s note: The following is a questionnaire completed by Carolyn Comer, the incumbent running for the Register of Deeds office. The Tribune did not receive a response by her opponent, Todd Harris, by press deadline.
Name: Carolyn M. Comer
Occupation: Register of Deeds – Surry County
Education (or military experience): I am a 1974 graduate of Surry Central High School in Dobson, and furthered my education at both Surry Community College and at the NC School of Government in Chapel Hill. All my studies following graduation have been in Land Records Administration and Records Management.
Campaign website: Additional online information about my campaign is available by clicking on any of my online ads in the Elkin Tribune, the Pilot Mountain News, or the Mount Airy News.
Political experience: My first run for political office came in 2004 when I was elected Register of Deeds for Surry County. I have served 8 years in that capacity and am now seeking re-election.
Why are you running for Register of Deeds? I began this race concerned primarily with continuing to build on the advancements we’ve introduced, and our achievements in efficiently recording and safeguarding the records of the people of Surry County. They’re our citizen’s most important documents … their birth and death records, real estate documents, marriage certificates, military discharges and others. Caring for these valuable records and doing so in a way that still saves every tax dollar possible is so important.
It was my good fortune to begin my career working with one of NC and Surry County’s most respected Registrars, Dennis W. “Bud” Cameron. I received training during and since those years that has enabled me to become one of only 35 Registrars serving in the state professionally certified as an “Advanced Register of Deeds.” I’ve dedicated almost my entire adult life to insuring that our citizen’s records are safe, secure and easily accessible.
How we do our job is prescribed by NC law. We set no policy, are forbidden from offering even the most basic legal advice, and conduct all our activities in accordance with the strict guidelines established by the state. And that is as it should be. Our duties are much too complex, far too serious … and certainly too important to our county’s citizens to ever allow political considerations to come into play.
I’m committed to serving the citizens of Surry County in the same manner I have since first being elected in 2004 … by placing public service ahead of all else.
What are the most important tasks of the Register of Deeds? Without getting too technical … our primary responsibility is to record, safeguard and make accessible the most important documents of our county’s citizens.
The documents under our care number in the millions, so having a simple, efficient … yet comprehensive indexing system is critical. We’ve built and refined our system through the years into a database that has earned us considerable praise from those who rely on the office for their livelihoods … people like our local attorneys, area lenders, realtors, and even genealogists from across NC.
We’ve really concentrated on providing excellent customer service while finding ways to save tax dollars. By employing the latest technologies, we can handle virtually all tasks much faster now than ever before. Whether working with land records, vital records like birth and death certificates, marriage licenses … almost anything … we can handle it more efficiently now than ever.
We’ve introduced a program that enables our citizens to obtain copies of their birth certificates right from our office, regardless of where in the state they were born.
We offer E-Recording, enabling those in the land conveyance industry to eliminate paper from the recording process and automate time-consuming processes … saving both those doing the recording and the citizens they serve.
We’re also obligated to protect our citizens against threats they may not even realize exist. We’ve done that by going to extraordinary lengths to protect county residents against identity theft by redacting their social security and bank account numbers from online document images.
How would you differentiate yourself from your opponent? My concern is with public service … not politics. My opponent’s campaign seems only to be about politics and that’s been disappointing. It leaves me wondering what exactly he offers other than that we’re from different political parties.
It’s certainly not a question of whether we’ve been conservative enough. We operate our office today using fewer tax dollars than were needed when I was first elected 8 years ago and we’ve operated in the black each of those 8 years. Those who frequent our office say it’s one of the most modern and efficient in the state.
In my mind, the position is one that demands trust. And this office … more so than any other in the county … should never, ever be about politics. I believe that’s why my re-election is supported by the NC Realtors Association, and endorsed by more than 50 local attorneys … and even other Registrars from staunchly conservative Republican counties like Yadkin.
I have the years of training and knowledge that are critical to effectively managing this office. I’ve seen firsthand the value of experience, of integrity … the value of competent, dedicated professionals loyal in their service to our county. If re-elected, I and my entire staff will continue to dedicate ourselves to providing the same quiet, competent, friendly service that have marked my years of service as Surry County Register of Deeds.
I simply want to continue building on the successes we’ve enjoyed … and keep this office free of politics.