In the general
election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Republican Chuck Harris and Democrat Lily M.
Schaefer will vie for the open office of Porter County Recorder. The
Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate questionnaires.
set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of
Valparaiso; Porter County Coroner and funeral director.
Porter County; practicing attorney since 1979.
(2) Describe the
Porter County Recorderís responsibilities (75 words).
County Recorder records and maintains documents for mortgages, liens,
leases, plats, military discharges, personal bonds, tax liens, and
bankruptcy filings that are current, legible, and easily accessible. An
important aspect of the Recorderís work is to index each document so it may
be readily located. This allows for the persons searching land records to
find the document necessary to establish a ďchain of titleĒ and ensure that
any debts against the property are evident.
Schaefer: If in
proper form, the Recorderís Office records all instruments/documents
presented for recording. Such documents include, but are not limited to,
deeds, mortgages, commercial and consumer UCC and UCCC filings, mechanicís
liens, estate planning documents, estate documents, and developerís plats.
The Recorder must establish procedures for public inspection and
preservation of these documents, and prepare separate indexes for different
types of documents. The Recorder must be familiar with the requirements of
Indiana Code Title 36.
The Coronerís Office and
the Recorderís Office are very similar. Both offices require impeccable
record keeping, the organization of legal documents, and the ability to
access and provide the documents accurately and in a timely fashion. Both
offices require working with outside agencies and organizations to get the
job done. Both positions require staff management and supervision, budget
control, budget adjustments, and the desire to maximize taxpayersí dollars
in conjunction with the County Council.
For Schaefer: Why
are you seeking election to the Office of Recorder (75 words) I am
seeking the office of Porter County Recorder because, after serving in
private practice for 40 years (as of 2019), I recognize how frustrating it
can be for non-lawyers to navigate public offices. It would be a pleasure
for me to serve in a position where, should the need arise, I can explain
legal requirements, the reasons for the requirements, and help streamline
the recording process.
(4) For Harris: How
does serving as Porter County Coroner specifically qualify you to serve as
Recorder? (75 words) My experience as an elected office holder for eight
years, balancing budgets in accordance with the County Council, and a
sincere desire to improve the quality of my community. I spend a
considerable amount of time fostering relationships with community
organizations that add to the value of our county, and I am willing to put
the time and effort to go above and beyond to ensure that Porter County is
reaching its maximum potential.
For Schaefer: What
skill sets do you possess which specifically qualify you to serve as
Recorder? (75 words) I have been a solo practitioner; an associate and a
partner at Burke, Costanza & Carberry; and ďof counselĒ at Genetos, Lane &
Buitendorp. In these capacities, I have had ample experience in personnel
and financial aspects of office management. As an attorney, I have the
skills needed to understand the legal requisites for recording, and I have
experience with the transition of record keeping from the filing of original
paper documents to e-filing.
yourself from your opponent and indicate in particular why you believe
yourself to be a better candidate? (100 words)
Harris: I have
been a part of county government since 2003 and am dedicated to this
community. I have worked with inner county entities such as police
departments, Porter County Substance Abuse Council, and the United Way just
to name a few. I have a proven history of being a budget hawk, and the
ability to streamline and provide better service with less funding. I sit on
several boards in Porter County that foster community participation and
elected office in Porter County requires a specific skill set.
Qualifications for the different administrative offices are not
interchangeable. I have the specific skills necessary to serve as Porter
County Recorder. I have represented individuals, businesses, and government
boards. For a combined 25 years, I served as zoning attorney for the City of
Valparaiso and zoning and planning attorney for Porter County. The areas of
my practice required familiarity with broad varieties of recorded documents.
My legal background, combined with my business experience, makes me uniquely
qualified to serve as Porter County Recorder.
(6) What are the
key issues in this race? (150 words)
Harris: It is
imperative that the County Recorder provides the general public, realtors,
title companies, and lending institutions with the most updated recording
and searching programs; be it in the office or online. We can make a
critical leap forward in the delivery and expediency of the services we
render to the people of Porter County. Our public is always investing in our
county and in our communities. We owe it to them to make sure their recorded
documents are secure, and that the information we preserve makes their title
closings efficient, effortless, and welcoming.
Porter County Recorder does not make policy decisions. The Recorder must
implement the recording requirements set forth by state statute. However,
certain political decisions do have an impact on the office. In the last
four years, under the pretext of implementing e-recording, the fees charged
by the Recorder, in almost every category, have increased dramatically.
Examples include deeds from $16 to $25, mortgages from $11 to $55,
mechanicís liens from $13 to $25. These increases came under an
all-Republican administration, including the current Recorder who chairs the
state Recorderís Association (which presumably approved or recommended the
increases). For retirees, home-buyers, developers and small businesspeople,
these substantially increased fees can be a hardship, especially when
combined with all the other increases and new local taxes. These increases
have been ďunder the radarĒ and are an issue that should be raised and
(7) If elected,
what priorities would you pursue in the Recorderís Office? (100 words)
elected, my first priority is to expand the Honor Rewards Program that Jon
Miller created. The program records a veteranís discharge papers, free of
charge, and then provides them with an HR card that grants them discounts to
businesses in our community. I believe that we can secure many more
businesses to provide discounts to our veterans. I will also strive to
ensure that your experience with the Recorderís Office is unlike any you
might have had or expected when dealing with a government agency; fast,
friendly, efficient, and helpful.
Porter County Recorder, I would pursue a reduction in the fees the
Recorderís Office charges. I am not naive enough to presume that I can
accomplish this single handedly, as that decision is made at another level.
However, I will pursue how the increases were enacted, what the rationale
was, and whether the increases benefited the dedicated and competent
Recorderís Office staff. Because in my experience with administrative
offices, there are often conflicts between different sections of statutes or
regulations, my other priority is to use my legal knowledge to assist the
staff and public in reconciling such conflicts.