Campaign website: www.electburton.com ; www.facebook.com/electburton ; www.facebook.com/voteporburton.com
Phone number: (919) 321 – 2981
Years lived in Durham County: 61 years of residency
1. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as Durham County’s register of deeds? (This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.)
My service as a public official began with my oath with the United States Air Force and continued with my oath as a Contract Administrator with the Department of Defense. In the positions in which I served I was the face of the United States government in matters of acquisition for projects in which I was involved. This included the assurance that transactions concerning the purchase, sale, and/or lease of property (real or otherwise) were properly recorded, cataloged, maintained, and preserved for usage in later transactions or for litigation.
Real property acquisition involved the consumption of land and structures tied to land for DoD use. If problems arose, the recorded data would be pulled to determine the extent of liability and parameters to which the damaged area extended.
Other experiences of public service that relate to the duties of the Register of Deeds include the custodian of several software libraries. Although again the cataloging of mortgages, trust deeds, or contracts of sale are not stored in a software library, the million lines of complex code used to develop operations software for the most complex weapons systems in the world are preserved. These lines of code are stored in accordance with applicable regulations that are set to assure reuse, and duplication of the parameters. The lines of code are recorded and cataloged and cross cataloged. The reuse of millions and millions of lines of code saves valuable months and years of development time. It enables new acquisitions to come on line quicker and cheaper as well assure reliability.
Although the transfer of ownership of property is not stored in these libraries, vital data that is used to provide assurances that the data is secure and indisputable.
Other experiences in my 36 year career that makes me suitable for the Register of Deeds is what most people think of when you tell them you are a Veteran or associated with the military and that is leadership and management ability. Depending on the project, I have led a cadre of professional people ranging from engineers to mathematicians to specialists with backgrounds in various areas and subject matter. I have used my leadership skills when I was appointed to the Board of Durham ABC. Anyone who read the newspaper
remembers the investigation that was announced in 2012 concerning problems with Durham County ABC. The County Commissioners appointed me at that time. I used my leadership skills after assuming the Chairmanship of the Board to swiftly resolve those issues.
2. What sparked your interest in Durham County’s historical archives? In one word, how would you describe your current archival knowledge of Durham County?
What sparked my interest in the historical archives was my search of family history. I have used Ancestry,com, I have gone to Stagville, I have researched Orange County's library for supporting documentation of the property records of slave ownership but an area I have difficulty in searching is the Register of Deeds office.
I am aware from teaching standardization, cataloging and documentation, that records and vital data must be recorded in a consistent manner statewide.
Since I have a familiarity in reviewing and understanding regulations that require the consistent indexing and categorization of records and vital data, I started there. My experience with the federal government, and state government aided me in understanding how these are applied locally. I researched those governing documents NC GS 161, 132, and 121 to understand how the register of deeds index and records data.
I have spoken with various Realtor associates and they have remarked about their difficulty in researching archival records and due to my background was able to help explain the general process.
For me, researching archival data prior to 1978 is difficult due to the fact that information from that date and further back is not online back to the beginning of the county's history.
I would say my archival knowledge of Durham County is good.
3. If elected, you would be running an office that was led for nearly 30 years by Willie Covington. How would you assess his performance, and what have you learned from it that could guide you in the job?
If elected I would be running and office that was led by Mr. Willie Covington for 18 years as of 2015. Mr. Covington was elected Recorder of Deeds in 1996. He took over a system run by Ms Ruth Garrett. Mr. Covington brought, when running for the office and after being elected, a set of "new eyes." He wanted to put a manual system online. By doing so, he wanted to create efficiency and improvement. In 1999, he accomplished that by bringing the data from 1978 to the present on line. Data pre-1978 is still a work in progress and still needs to be placed online. What I learned from Mr. Covington's effort to update the office
was that it was the result of him having a set of fresh eyes. The previous Registrar and staff were locked in a paradigm. The office had not moved in the direction of advancement that existed around them in data storage and retrieval due to pre-established paradigms of whether the office would function properly or whether customers would be comfortable with the update. I would rate what Mr. Covington has done as being notable and progressive. Yet what I have learned from his performance is that with digitization comes hazards.
In 1999, there was no iPhone and no Skype, and hacking was un-heard of. These advances took place in 2003 and 2007 respectively and so has the vulnerability of online systems to having their data tampered with. Advances in data storage, retrieval and the people who understand how to manipulate the data since that time has progressed and the potential for tampering with the data has increased as well. I also gleam that there is no customer satisfaction apparatus to determine the quality of the service, this type of survey would
also examine the level of quality of performance of the office as well. This feedback would provide insight into what can be improved. There is no way of seeing the operation from the customer eyes as well as letting customers understand how others see the operation or determine if there are others who feel as they do. Even improvements that can be done behind the scenes such as increased firewall protection to deter hackers as well as other improvements have not been undertaken. I learned that more transparency in the operation of and office provides a better informed community and electorate and creates a more inviting system for entrepreneurs.
4. In what ways would your election benefit the citizens of Durham County?
My election as Register of Deeds would do the same as Mr. Covington's election. It would provide a fresh look at the office and be able to see the progressive opportunities that exist for the office. The office operates in accordance with the General Statutes of this state so the cataloging and recording of records are standardized so that they are stored in the same manner throughout the state. The staff Deputy Register of Deeds and Assistant Register of Deeds is familiar with those statutes and the recording of the data. But securing that
data, assuring ease of access by all customers, and ascertaining customer satisfaction is something I would bring to the office and the citizens of Durham County. I would also bring greater transparency and the eliminating the misconception that the Register of Deeds is an enforcement arm of Immigration and Naturalization. Eliminating the misconception that religious viewpoints mandate the actions of the office.
My election would benefit the citizens by having the ability to work with all of the Commissioners. The Register of Deeds may be an elected office however the budget is approved by the County Commissioners. As such, the number of employees, office space, and equipment are allocated thru the annual budget process. I have been working directly with all of the County Commissioners for years as the Chair of the Durham County ABC Board and as past Chair of the Transportation Advisory Board. I provide them with consistent updates concerning operations, threats to our good standing in the community and actions that can provide good public relations.
5. Do you think there’s any room in the register of deeds office for people expressing their social views by refusing to perform duties on “religious” grounds?
I do not think there's any room in the Register of Deeds office for people expressing their social views by refusing to perform duties on "religious" grounds. Neither should anyone not provide full assistance due to a language barrier or mislead anyone when the proper credentials have been provided to obtain documents. We have a growing Hispanic community within our county and with that, the Register of Deeds office should not let the social viewpoint of a group of people keep them from performing their duty as a servant of the people. All of the people of the county deserve to be served.
If an individual takes an oath or affirms that they will freely serve the people without obligation, and will faithfully discharge the duties of their office upon which they enter, then the person has an obligation to uphold the oath or affirmation and there is no excuse. Personal belief has no room in the equation. If a magistrate, register of deeds personnel, or other government official feels so strongly that their personal belief must outweigh their obligation to their duty then they should step down from their position.
6. What new ideas do you bring to the table for streamlining the register of deeds office for maximum efficiency?
The new ideas that I would bring to the office to streamline operations would be first and foremost that this office serves the customer and the focus should be on the customer. Let's make it easy for the customer to find, review and determine what records they want. I would update the website so it is user friendly and customer friendly. I have years of experience applying customer focused based functions to operations. I have created centergy among workers to motivate and create innovation within a work environment. I understand how to move an operation forward without harming the operation or creating havoc. I have the advantage of not being blinded by paradigms or having interacted with staff that understands how to move around me. I have a Masters Degree in Public Management and I have not been restrained in using that knowledge in the performance of my job or community involvement.
I would establish internal training and cross training of personnel to allow each employee to understand the job below and above them. This would enhance the abilities of all employees and enhance the office. I would also increase the bilingual staff in the office so as the growing Hispanic community would be able to better communicate their needs.