Meet the Candidates: Clayton County Recorder

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Recorder candidates Sue Meyer (left) and Donna Kann

The position of Clayton County Recorder is on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election. Republican Sue Meyer (left) is seeking reelection, with a challenge from Democrat Donna Kann. The two participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Times-Register and Monona Outlook newspapers, sharing thoughts on the office. Responses are included below, edited for length and clarity. Watch a full recording of the forum on the Times-Register YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT_RCuZfUYA&t=8s. Find more election info at elections.claytoncountyia.gov/.

 

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Sue Meyer was born and raised in Clayton County. She and her husband have two grown children. She served as deputy in the recorder’s office for 17 years, before seeking election as recorder in 2002. She’s held the office since.

 

“I don’t know if there’s really any place you get prepared to be a county recorder,” Meyer acknowledged. “When I got hired to the job, I had been a legal secretary. I did have a general office education, and that’s a good place to start. You have to learn it on the fly, and there’s a lot to learn. You have to be very detail oriented, you have to know accounting and you have to be a very good customer service person.”

 

Donna Kann is originally from Winterset and now lives in McGregor. Her political background includes time on the Marquette city council. She’s also an Army veteran, where she gained experience as an admin assistant.

 

“I was a little ignorant about all the duties of the county recorder, but have since been educated,” she admitted. “I think my admin background prepares me for this. The service to city, county, country is very important to me.”

 

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The recorder’s office is a key, but perhaps sometimes overlooked, part of Clayton County government. Talk about the important role the office plays.

 

According to Meyer, the biggest duty is to record all documents affected by real estate. “When you buy a piece of property, you either buy it by deed or by contract. It’s very important to get your documents recorded,” she explained. “It also is the financial stability of our county because, when you record a deed, you more than likely have also borrowed money to buy that property. That mortgage needs to be recorded as well.”

 

The recorder’s office is the oldest county office in Iowa, dating back to 1839. “We archive everything in our office every day. Whatever happens in our office today is archived for tomorrow and for the future,” Meyer said. 

 

Added Kann, “It also is the registration for vehicles, ATVs, snowmobiles; hunting, fishing and harvesting licenses; and monthly reports to the boards and Department of Revenue.”

 

In what ways can you make the office and its services more efficient and easily accessible for residents?

 

The state of Iowa recorded its first online document in 2005, said Meyer. A website called iowalandrecords.org was created, and is run by a project manager, three developers, a support person and other office personnel through the Iowa County Recorders Association. 

 

“I’m proud to say, last year, we recorded 42 percent of our documents electronically. In the entire state of Iowa, we’ve reached over a 50 percent threshold, at just about 55 percent we are recording electronically,” Meyer stated. “We all know during the pandemic that was key that we could offer these services to have that electronic capability, so you didn’t have to come to the office. And, obviously, you could still mail us documents. We continue to invite other users of our recording documents to come on board with the Iowa Land Records program and do e-submissions.” 

 

Meyer said the office has also back scanned deeds dating back to the beginning of Clayton County, approximately 1839-1840. “We are back indexing those, and they will eventually become public as well. It takes some time because our organization, Iowa Land Records, has to run all those documents through redaction services,” she stated.

 

Kann acknowledged there will be a learning curve if elected to the position. “I can’t go in and say I’m going to do this and do that without some staff support teaching me along the way how to do the job. I am a team player, and I believe a team accomplishes more than an individual. That’s primarily my goal,” she said.

 

What other priorities do you have for the recorder’s office?

 

Kann said it’s difficult to say when she’s not currently in the office. But her priority is to make it run efficiently. “I’m looking for a team to be accurate, efficient and friendly,” she added. “I have the tendency to be blunt. I’ll give honest answers. If I don’t know it, I’ll tell you I don’t know it.”

 

For Meyer, the next project is to back scan all the plats and subdivisions in Clayton County. Then it would all be archived should a fire or other incident occur at the courthouse. “They will be coming next month to do back scanning. Eventually that will be imported into our electronic system and we will continue to index those as well,” she said. 

 

Meyer has found it important to archive the history of the county. “History has always been important to me, always been an interest to me. I enjoy it,” she said. “I think taking the history of our county and making it available to all of you online, eventually, is important.”

 

She wants to continue to take the office forward, into the future. The recorder’s office runs some of the highest tech recording software in the state of Iowa, Meyer noted, “and I want to continue to be that forefront because that’s what makes us efficient. Our goal is to continue to record those documents on an extremely timely basis and get that information out to the public.”

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