EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about contested races in the May 6 Hamilton County primary election.
A 25-year-old corrections officer is challenging a five-term incumbent for the Republican nod for the Hamilton County register of deeds post.
Ryan Epperson, a corrections officer at the Hamilton County Jail, says local GOP voters should pick him over Pam Hurst, who is seeking her sixth term in office.
Hamilton County Director of Real Property Paul Parker qualified to run as a Republican for the post, but he later withdrew.
There is no Democratic candidate for the office.
The register of deeds is responsible for filing and protecting many legal documents including deeds, powers of attorney, land plats, military discharges and others. Currently, the office has 15 employees and a $1.1 million budget. The job pays $103,795 a year.
Epperson, who moved to Chattanooga in 2006 when he joined the National Guard, began working for the sheriff's office in 2009.
He says he would seek to bring more technology into the register's office.
"The register of deeds post, I think there's a lot of good with it. But I believe it could use a lot of change," Epperson said. "I think the introduction of technology into that office has been a little slow. I would bring technology, if elected."
But Hurst said technology was one of the first things she addressed when she was elected in 1994.
"I was a title examiner for a title company before I was the register. We used to pull big heavy books off the shelf," Hurst said. "So the first thing was we digitized records in the first three years, and we made remote access through the Internet available."
By 1998, Hurst said the office had Internet access, and e-filing for deeds started in 2005.
Hurst said one of her main goals for her sixth term would be to keep the office "user-friendly."
"I've just always been trying to focus on customer service. ... I love real estate. It's real interesting. The job is always interesting, just doing different things everyday."
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at email@example.com or at 423-757-6481.