Thornton challenges McKenna for Kent Recorder of Deeds seat

Eugenia Thornton

FREDERICA — Kent County Planning Commissioner Eugenia Thornton announced her intentions to run for the Kent County Recorder of Deeds seat currently held by Betty Lou McKenna. Ms. Thornton, a 67-year-old Republican from Frederica, filed for the nonpartisan row office position on Feb. 9. Ms. McKenna, a Democrat, has been the county’s recorder of deeds since 2003 and filed in March to retain the seat. As of Thursday, neither candidate has a primary opponent in their respective parties. The general election is to be held on Nov. 6.

Ms. Thornton indicated that, if elected, she’d resign as Kent County Regional Planning Commissioner after holding the position for nearly 12 years.

Referencing a master’s degree in public administration, a career as a colonel in the U.S. Army, participation in multiple community and veteran organizations and experience managing public records and large staffs, Ms. Thornton feels she’s well qualified for the post.

“I qualify by education, training, and 27 years of experience,” Ms. Thornton said.

Serving in the armed forces during Desert Storm, Ms. Thornton noted that she’s dealt with “complex databases under unique circumstances.”

“I had a database of 125,000 active duty military, Reserve component military and the National Guardsmen to manage,” she said. “Each had their own separate databases that weren’t integrated. We had to hand crank all that and add them to our database. We grew from a cohort of 7,000 that was brought from Stuttgart, Germany, to the desert and we grew to 125,000 right before the ground war started.”

For her service, she was awarded a Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star and a gold Horatio Gates medal (honorary medal for the Adjutant General Corps).

Platform

Ms. Thornton feels she can offer a lot to the recorder of deeds position, and has her eye on several specific areas she says “need attention.”

“First, upgrade software so taxpayers know when their recorded documents are being accessed,” she said. “Title theft is a fast growing white collar crime.”

She notes that in March, Experian listed Delaware as third on its list of eight states where identity theft is most likely.

“I’m not saying that title theft is happening here yet, it may be, but it’s happening all over the country,” said Ms. Thornton. “There was recently a big case in Montgomery, Maryland, where seven brokers were buying and selling houses that weren’t theirs. It’s timely that we make preparations for this.”

Ms. Thornton also plans to eliminate fees for Home Owners Association elections, covenants and common area maintenance agreements.

“We must stop raising fees unless proven necessary and in consultation with stakeholders,” she added. “Where already raised, such as what the dtate of Delaware did last August and incumbent McKenna did in September, fight to roll the increases back”

Ms. Thornton also disagrees with a recent recorder of deeds fee increase passed last year. A new $5 fee was implemented, $2 of which would go toward modernization in the Deeds office and the remaining $3 would go to the general fund of Kent County Levy Court.

“I would never propose such a thing,” she said. “In my experience, first you have a project in mind and a cost benefits analysis, and finally you seek funding. Not the other way around.”

She notes that she’d also prioritize some house cleaning of the recorder of deeds office.

“On my to-do list would be to fix, replace or remove damaged equipment in the professional area of the deeds office and ensure the square footage of the professional area of the office remains the same,” she said.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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