LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Clarifying a response

Though Ian Gronau’s reporting was accurate in his excellent summation of the League of Women Voters/AAUW debate that took place on Oct 17, the brevity of my position (page 6, Oct 18 DSN) may leave questions in the readers’ minds.

The reported paraphrase was that I was interested in combining some of the row offices for efficiency’s sake.

Yes and no.

I would keep all row office staffs and workspaces separate as they now are. What I would eliminate or combine was the elected official in charge of them. If we combined the elected officials for Wills and Deeds, thus eliminating one of the two, it would save the taxpayers more than $120,00 in four years and every four years thereafter. One elected official could handle public inquiries from both offices.

Alternatively, if we eliminated the elected official in charge of the Deeds office, the office I seek, and left all other row offices as they are, the Deeds office could be brought under the Director of Planning. This would not change the function or personnel of the office, only remove the elected official which would save the taxpayers more than $32,000 per year thereafter.

In the later scenario, the Levy Court commissioner responsible for political oversight of Planning would then be responsible for constituency services for Deeds related matters.

Having elected officials responsible to the people is extremely important. The people need somewhere to go when the bureaucratic system fails them. I would not eliminate entirely the elected oversight of any of the row offices, especially the sheriff and the Clerk of the Peace.

Wills and Deeds no longer have dusty books to maintain — they are computerized and the staffs of the Wills and Deeds offices have shrunk to the point that paying two elected officials in excess of $32,000 apiece, per year, plus benefits and retirement, may not be the most efficient use of the people’s money.

That would not be my call, however: As I said during the debate — and Ms. McKenna agreed with me during her rebuttal — the row offices’ existence or lack thereof lies with the legislators in the General Assembly, not with the county.

Finally, I want to restate an important point I made in the debate — under no circumstance should all three counties be combined into one statewide Recorder of Deeds or one statewide Register of Wills. These jobs need to remain under local rule — and under a local politician — to be responsive to the people.

Thank you for allowing me to clarify.

Eugenia Thornton

Frederica

EDITOR’S NOTE: Eugenia Thornton, a Republican, is facing incumbent Democrat Betty Lou McKenna for the Kent County Register of Deeds position.

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