Hamilton County has had a recent history of candidates in part-time state and county elected positions leaving those jobs to become effective, full-time managers in the county's several documentary offices.
Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullender, Hamilton County Circuit Court Clerk Larry Henry, Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk Vince Dean and Assessor of Property Marty Haynes are current examples, and former Assessors of Property Claude Ramsey and Bill Bennett are other recent examples.
State Rep. Marc Gravitt, R-East Ridge, hopes to add his name to that list after the August general election. He is running for the open job of register of deeds. We believe his two terms as a legislator, business background and familiarity with the office after more than 20 years as a customer/real estate broker qualify him well for the job, and we endorse him.
He is also endorsed by retiring Register of Deeds Pam Hurst, the local legislative delegation and several other leaders in those documentary offices.
Gravitt, 51, is opposed by Democrat Vickie Schroyer, 56, who has more than 35 years of experience in the register's office, including her current post as deputy register.
Hurst has been such an effective leader and innovator, Gravitt says, that she wrote the Tennessee register's handbook.
Gravitt says there are very few issues in the race. One is the $50 per month access fee for frequent users. He says he would consider eliminating it or cutting it in half but would want to take a look at the books over the last decade before making a decision on it.
Schroyer, similarly, says she would consider reducing the fee.
Gravitt says if he wins he has no plans to make any staff changes "because they've got that institutional knowledge" and would wait at least six months to do an evaluation of the office before making any other changes, except perhaps the access fee.
Schroyer says there's always room for improvemen in any office, and she believes the register's office is adequately staffed and has no excess cost to taxpayers.
Were she to win, she said, she would look for someone who speaks another language in her next employee, would continue digitizing images of previous deeds and would make sure the office is always current in information technology.
Gravitt says a threat today is electronic security, and he would certify the office is as secure as is possible.
Schroyer started in the office at age 19 and says she has seen it move from typewriters to computers to electronic access.
"This is not something a politician can just come in and do," she says. "There is not a Democratic or Republican way of recording a deed."
Schroyer urges voters not to just vote for her but to hire her.
"It's the culmination of my career," she says. "It's part of me. It's in [my] blood. Every piece of paper you touch matters. It's paperwork of your most important investment."
We lean to Gravitt because of his varied experience and because he has Hurst's imprimatur.