GOSHEN — Three candidates are vying for the position of Elkhart County recorder – incumbent Jerry Weaver, Jessica Sanders and Jennifer Doriot.
Sanders is an employee of the recorder's office and Doriot works part-time for the auditor's office. All three candidates filed as Republican.
Doriot, 55, is a first-time candidate for public office. She works with her husband, Blake Doriot, county surveyor, at their land surveying business, B Doriot & Associates Inc.
She also works part-time as a geographic information systems tech for the county auditor's office. That involves making maps and verifying deed information with current maps.
She said over the past several years, the auditor's office has received a number of complaints about the recorder's office.
"There needs to be some type of change," she said.
She wants to increase the window of time when people can come in and submit documents, and she'd like to update the amount of information that's available online.
Doriot said that sometimes, the recorder's office doesn't get along well with other offices, and she'd like to improve that for the good of the public.
"I don’t know if it’s personal between the recorders and the auditors, but since we all have to work, once that one person who comes in to record that deed has to see all three offices, we have to make it the best experience it can be. I'm sure coming into a county office isn't all that fun to begin with, but you know, we need to make that experience just a little bit better and not so time consuming," she said.
Doriot believes her acquired skills as a business owner would serve her well in addressing the county's budget deficit.
"I’ve owned my own business for 25 years so know when I have a budget, I cannot go over that budget," she said. "You’re only given so much and have to spend it in the best way you can."
If elected, she hopes to apply her business skills to running the recorder's office like a business.
"You have to make cuts and save money," she said.
Weaver, 68, was first elected to the recorder's office in 2011.
Under his leadership, the office has updated backlogs of public records to include 50 years of documents, offered online services to spare residents and business owners a trip to the office, replaced outdated software and started offering a free fraud notification service for county residents.
"I love what I do. We've made a lot of progress since I've taken over," he said.
Doriot has been critical of the office's hours of business, but Weaver said they've actually gone beyond what's required to serve the public.
A 2008 policy signed by various county officials instated a 2 p.m. cut-off for the recorder's office to process documents.
"This isn't true anymore and we actually established a policy to that effect," he said, explaining that the office processes documents until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 4 p.m. Mondays.
Weaver also challenged Doriot's criticisms about the office's relationship with other departments and the amount of information available online.
Weaver has worked diligently with the auditor's office to sort out policy and personnel issues, he said.
"We don't have issues. That's old news."
As for online access?
"I don't know how much more we could put on the Internet. We're doing as much as we can," he said.
If re-elected, Weaver wants to increase awareness of the fraud alert system, electronically file 350,000 documents that date back 50 years and increase the number of documents that are filed electronically — currently at 35 percent.
Sanders, 25, is a first-time candidate for public office and an information management assistant in the recorder's office. She's worked there a little more than three years.
She may be new to the process, but she said she knows the recorder's office inside and out.
"I want to be the one striving to make the office better and work towards the county goals," she said.
Her duties include working on an advanced level with the office's technology, auditing and monitoring daily activity, working with staff, vendors and other county departments, troubleshooting, recommending changes and training employees.
If elected, she wants to make taxpayers' trips to the recorder's office to get copies as simple as possible.
"If we started indexing more information, then that would eliminate so many extra steps just to get a copy," she said.
Another priority for Sanders would be working with other county offices to increase public understanding of how local government operates.
"One of the issues I've noticed when individuals come to the office is that they have no idea what each office does," she said.
She may not have a long work history, she said, "but I have worked in customer service my whole career so far, and putting that skill with my know-how of the recorder's office only makes me the better candidate."
Sanders acknowledges that she's the youngest candidate, but she believes that's an advantage.
"I was born in the generation that is going to help decide the future and that is what I intend on doing," she said.
Job description and salary
The county recorder maintains permanent public records. He handles document transactions that include real estate, mining, personal property, mortgages, liens, leases, subdivision plats, military discharges and personal bonds, according to Elkhart County Human Resources.
The recorder also maintains and preserves all legal documents affecting title to real property. These records are the legal basis for determining ownership.
The 2014 recorder salary is budgeted at $39,325.
The recorder's office is at 117 N. Second Street, Goshen.