Democrat Terry J. Brown will try to unseat Republican Daphne Hawk in the Nov. 6 race to be Franklin County recorder.
Both Brown and Hawk are running for the office for the first time; Hawk was appointed to the office last year to replace Robert G. Montgomery, who became a judge in Franklin County Probate Court.
Hawk, a lifelong Grove City resident, has a background in real estate and education that led her to the job.
"The recorder's office is all about real estate," she said, adding she worked as a sales trainer and CEO with real estate companies, in addition to other jobs.
"Since the office is all about real estate and leadership, when the opportunity came up I couldn't turn it down," she said.
Hawk and her husband, Keith, have two sons, one daughter and two grandchildren. One son dealt with childhood cancer and Hawk said it helped her gain perspective on what's important.
"I made more money in real estate, but I really enjoy this," she said.
Since taking office last year, Hawk said she's reduced the agency's budget by $250,000.
Revenue for the office comes from fees charged for the agency's services, and Hawk said 2013's projected budget has the office making money. The funds likely will be invested in new equipment, she said.
"We also do document image scanning for all county agencies," she said.
Along with handling county records, the recorder's office also handles real estate documents, veteran discharge papers and documents for veterans' graves, living wills and powers of attorney.
Outreach efforts to explain the office's duties have been a part of her job since taking office, Hawk said.
"I enjoy going out and educating people on what the recorder's office is all about," she said. "I speak with municipal jurors every two weeks. I visit veterans' groups, the VFW and American Legion about military discharge papers."
Hawk said she also has worked to try to make experiences with her office easier for the public. By linking the recorder's website with those of the county auditor and sheriff, the public needs to search only one place for information such as sheriff's sales, she said.
A new search engine for real estate records worked to make research easier for the public, she said. The office also now offers the ability to order and pay for certified documents online and have them mailed, Hawk said.
"I want people to have a good customer service experience with us," she said.
Brown, who has resided in the Westgate Park neighborhood in Columbus with his partner, Joel, for five years, said his experience in government and his work ethic make him ideal for the seat.
"I was taught at a very early age to work hard and take pride in your work," he said, adding that he started working at age 12 delivering newspapers.
"I worked in high school and college and I worked in my dad's business doing construction," Brown said. "I learned a good work ethic ... and I plan to take that to the recorder's office."
Brown has worked as internal auditor of the Franklin County Municipal Clerk of Courts Office for the past two and a half years, and also boasts experience from the Franklin County Zoning Commission and other county boards.
If elected, Brown said he would work to run the office successfully and with fiscal responsibility. He also cited two major goals.
"One change is allowing people to opt into a system that has living wills and power of attorney (documents) securely offered online," he said.
Although the recorder's office now takes email requests for the documents and monitors the requests all the time, Brown is concerned that emergency situations may be negatively affected by the current system.
"In case of an emergency, this will let people know it's on file with the office and they have a password to access it," he said.
Brown also wants to set up a system that would notify people of any changes made to documents regarding property in their name. The system would be available to people who signed up online, he said.
Along with making aspects of the office easier, Brown said public education also would be a big part of being county recorder, if he is elected.
"I know a lot about public education and making sure you're taking the office outside the walls of the courthouse," he said, noting he helped former county treasurer Rich Cordray educate the public on the job of the office.
"It was a little-known office, but we took aspects of the office to educate people at church festivals, the county fair, churches (and) senior centers," Brown said. "All these people that have events, you can take the office there and educate people about the office and areas that the office interacts with."