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Published: Monday, 10/4/2004

Recorder candidates see a need for updates

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Both candidates for Lucas County recorder recognize their race this year is likely not on the radar of most area voters.

In fact, Republican Melanie Perz and Democrat Anita Lopez have found that many voters aren't very aware of who the recorder is or what the office does.

Updating the way things are done on the seventh floor of One Government Center and making the office more visible is a common goal of the two opponents. How to accomplish that and the strengths they believe they bring to the office differ greatly.

Both candidates are lifelong residents of Lucas County and graduates of Central Catholic High School. Ms. Lopez points to her law degree and knowledge of the Ohio Revised Code as a key component of her race. Ms. Perz is a licensed Realtor, a profession that often deals with the recorder's office.

The recorder's responsibilities include indexing, recording, and maintaining land records and other documents such as mortgages, liens, leases, uniform commercial code filings, military discharges, and surety bonds.

Recorder Sue Rioux, who announced late last year she would not seek re-election, has a salary of $63,195, according to records on file with the office of Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. In 2004, the recorder oversaw a $823,714 budget from the general fund. The rest of the recorder's budget is collected through fees and put into an equipment fund.

Ms. Perz, 34, a licensed Realtor with Welles Bowen Realtors, stressed her background in business, saying her vision for the office is to ensure documents can be recorded and accessed "quickly, accurately, and with ease." That vision can be accomplished using three strategies, she said: creating a business plan for the office, establishing a consistency in the level of service provided, and updating the technology used. Ms. Perz stressed the need for a business plan so both long-term and short-term goals could be created and progress tracked.

Ms. Lopez, 35, an attorney and current member of the Toledo Board of Education, said her knowledge of the law will ensure that the recorder's office accepts only those documents it is legally required to file and that each document is properly and legally completed.

She said her goals for the recorder's office include creating an advisory board of residents, business members, and members of the military to provide advice to the office, and creating a means of open communication with taxpayers.

"I think this needs to happen at all levels of county government," Ms. Lopez said.

Ms. Lopez's other initiatives include creating a more cooperative working arrangement between the recorder's office and the auditor's office, for example, creating a shared front desk area that businesses can access simultaneously. Also, she wants to implement the technology that would allow the public to record documents via e-mail and provide for the digitized storing of records.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-724-6076.



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