Depending on who the candidate voters choose May 6 , the Register of Deeds office could gain a new staff of Spanish-speaking employees or even begin to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
The candidates include incumbent Deborah Brooks and two challengers: Mark Chilton, former mayor of Carrboro and a longtime local real estate lawyer, and Sara Stephens , a former Register of Deeds office employee.
Under state law, Chilton would not be able to practice law if he’s elected to the register position .
Chuck Szypszak, a UNC professor of public law and government, said the candidates each meet the criteria for a usual Register of Deeds. He said it is a very technical position and requires knowledge of real estate.
“Registers typically campaign on how responsive they’ll be to the people, how careful they’ll be with records, and their level of experience,” he said. “It’s commonly someone who’s involved in the local community.”
Chilton and Stephens both plan to hire new Spanish-speaking staff at the Register of Deeds office and translate the office’s website into Spanish to serve the county’s growing Hispanic population.
“When you come in and you don’t speak English, and we say we don’t accept cash and you don’t understand, that can become a really large problem and a time waster,” Stephens said.
Natalia Lenis , office coordinator at El Centro Hispano in Carrboro, said members of the Hispanic community often have problems accessing public records in general because they have to bring their own interpreter or an English-speaking family member.