During the 2020 elections, probably the most high-profile and contentious race in McDowell County is the contest for the Register of Deeds office.

Two Republican women are seeking the nomination of the local GOP for this office. And since no Democrats filed to run for the Register of Deeds, the Republican primary will be the deciding election in this case.

The McDowell News asked both candidates to submit a statement about why they should be elected as Register of Deeds. Their responses are listed in alphabetical order.

Lydia Tilley Effler

I want to share my vision as your Register of Deeds, but I think it’s critical that you know me and my background. My experience and career have prepared me with the qualities necessary to serve as Register of Deeds, but my personal life built my empathy and heart for service.

My parents were Ben and Carolyn Withrow Tilley. I am the middle child between two brothers, Jeff and Ethan. My mother died when I was seven years old of cancer and my father raised my brothers and me alone until he remarried Margie Boone Tilley. Once they married, we became “eight is enough.”

Our family was rooted in Garden Creek Baptist Church where I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord. When I married Chet Effler, I joined Pleasant Gardens Baptist Church. We have raised our daughters to love others and be kind. It’s our obligation to live an abundant life through Christ.

My career started in 1997 when Sheriff Jackie Turner hired me in the records division. Over the past 22 years I have been entrusted by three sheriffs handling the most private legal processes. That trust required me to maintain good integrity, character and work ethic. My work has required me to protect you and your families during the toughest of times.

The records management experience I bring to the table includes processing concealed weapon and gun permits, which include conducting background checks and making decisions about gun ownership and the safety of our citizens. I have processed and managed civil process papers involving private property, and real estate. The court orders I have managed and processed involve executions and ejectments. During my service, I have also managed the inmate trust fund, billing for housing of inmates and collecting fees for service and permits. Yearly, I assisted in the county’s audit review. These records are precise, and the safety of our citizens is the No. 1 goal in records management involving the Sheriff’s Office. My first 15 years was strictly in the records division.

I completely understand the role of serving as your Register of Deeds and will work hard to maintain your “peace of mind” in the storage and filing of records. I will provide you with a smile and work hard to serve everyone that enters the office.

There are several items I want to address if elected Register of Deeds.

First, I will implement a policy in accordance with the current N.C. General Statute on Public Records Management that requires all public records be kept in the building they are intended to be kept. This state law is clear and your records in my administration will be kept in the controlled environment provided by the county. Second, I will work with local historical groups in the development of a preservation policy that provides access but protects our treasured documents. Third, I will immediately implement a policy that no political activity will occur in the office of the Register of Deeds. Fourth, I will make sure that no document or public record of any type is ever on display at any festival or other public event while I am engaged in campaigning. This is a direct violation of county policy. Many of the records are fragile and the exposure of elements and destruction are more important than my political success. Fifth, I will institute an inventory of the records in the custody of the Register of Deeds and provide the Board of Commissioners with public report of that inventory. Sixth, I will institute continual customer service training for myself and staff to assure we are using the best business practices in serving you the citizens of McDowell County. Last, I will continue to seek technology that protects and enhances the citizens’ experience with access to their vital and property records.

If I am blessed to serve as your next Register of Deeds, I pledge to you that my private and public life will be one rooted in my faith and respect for you the citizens of McDowell County. There will not be one incident involving questionable behavior. My 22 years of unquestioned public service is what I stand on to show my commitment to serve you in a respectable manner. The campaigning is complete, and you are at a point where you are making your final decision of who will serve as your Register of Deeds for the next four years. I ask you to vote for me because I have listened and learned over the years that public service is temporary, your trust is most important and I as your employee am entitled nothing. It has been an honor to serve you for 22 years and on March 3, 2020, I will still be Lydia no matter the outcome and I will still have my integrity and character. May God richly bless each of you!

Tonia Hampton

I have TRUE daily Register of Deeds Experience in Advance Record Management.

Since being hired as a Deputy Register of Deeds in 2001, I have learned this job from the bottom up. I have worked under the supervision of two very knowledgeable and skilled prior elected Registers. My experience and knowledge of N.C. Law and Real Estate Law are necessary to be an effective Register of Deeds. In the past I had worked for several attorneys such as Dameron & Burgin, Sharon Parker, Tony Yancey, Hugh Franklin & W. Hill Evans. I brought that experience with me to this job, so I know the process on both sides of the counter.

Often laws change and knowing all the details can be difficult. As your Register I have been responsible for making decisions based on the understanding of the law and I have taken an oath to follow it. My effectiveness as your Register of Deeds has been my ability to understand real estate instruments and recording procedures. My experience and attention to details, along with the ability to manage a busy office has been proven for 8 years.

Since being elected in 2012, my effectiveness, experience as your Register of Deeds, has been an asset to McDowell County. Under my management there have been over 90 thousand documents filed, indexed, and maintained for safe keeping.

This job is not about popularity, it is about getting the job done. I have been your register for eight years and I know my job and do it well!

A few accomplishments since 2012 as your Register of Deeds

• I created and maintain a FREE website- www.mcdowelldeeds.com — for all real estate document since 1842 to present.

• Indexed and scanned over 89 thousand vital documents for public viewing

• Introduced ERBS- this office now can pull Birth Certificates from 1971 to present from any N.C. County, saving the customer a drive to another County or snail mail.

• FREE-Identity Theft Alert-this will contact you if someone is using your name to search documents in the office.

• Return all Deeds, Power of Attorneys or important documents immediately after filing. (Before, there was a three-day turn around).

• Efficient, friendly and excellent customer service. Curb service for handicapped or disabled patrons.

• Created online marriage database and Web application for marriages

• Reduced costs of credit card and debit card service charges.

• Removal of all personal information that could be used for Identity Theft- over 91,200 documents.

• Implemented: Thank a Veteran Program designed a FREE Veterans Card that allows Veterans to receive local discounts with County businesses.

• I have been conservative on spending budgeted funds, since 2012 I have put back $258 thousand dollars back into the McDowell County General Fund.

• Since 2012 I have managed over 8 Million dollars in transactions in this office — without any question of my merit.

ALSO: Since becoming your Register, I:

• Am the only electronic Notary in McDowell County, assisting any customer that may need this service FREE of charge.

• Am certified with the N.C. Register of Deeds Association.

• Have earned my Register of Deeds Advanced Certification thru the N.C. School of Government at Chapel Hill.

• Am the Secretary of the N.C. Register of Deeds Association for District I — containing 17 western counties of North Carolina

• Was chosen by my peers to be on the Local Government Federal Credit Union Advisory Board and continue to serve this position

• Serve currently on the NCARD Vital Record Committee-working with the N.C. Department of Health and Vital Records in Raleigh, and N.C. Secretary of State Division of Notary Public and Mapping Development Offices.

• Developed an Emergency Disaster Plan for the Register of Deeds.

I have poured my heart & soul into this job. I have brought this office into the 21st century with the most advanced technology possible for the state of North Carolina, with keeping low spending in mind. I have proven to be a loyal public servant and an excellent Register of Deeds.

I have raised five children and have never forgotten what it is like to budget and be conservative. I am married to the love of my life, Rick Hensley, for 24 years. Also, I attend the True Holiness Fellowship Church of Old Fort. I ask that you consider my work ethics and true experience in this job as your Register of Deeds.

I LOVE my job and will never forget that you, the voters, are to thank for this privilege.

Please vote for me — Tonia Hampton, to continue serving you.

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