“The most common transaction people have with this office occurs when someone is buying a home,” explains López.
“Before they get a closing, they go through a title company. That title company reviews all of the documents in the recorder’s office pertaining to that piece of property they are buying to see if there are any liens. If everything is fine, they get a clean title.
“My office keeps all those legal documents. And we receive more documents every day as paperwork is filed for mortgages. In effect, we are the keeper of the records, including original land plat books,” says López, the first Latina to hold the elected position.
She wants to make it clear that the recorder’s office quietly went about doing its job well every day under her predecessor, Sue Rioux, who chose to retire from the post. But those who have followed López’s career in public service know she is a catalyst for change.
Unlike those who believe in the old adage ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,’ López sees challenges where others merely see the status quo. That’s why you can expect to see some significant changes during her watch. For starters, you can expect more online access, a greater public presence, and higher visibility.
“You will see the recorder’s office becoming more visible at more public events,” promises López.
“We’ll be holding forums and educational sessions at senior centers and VFW and other veteran’s groups. We will be purchasing laptops to take to fairs where we can instantly provide a copy of a deed or a lien, and, by showing people how to use the system on line, let the public look up the status of their home,” said López.
Why veteran’s groups? That’s because the recorder’s office fulfills another function, which is not widely known to the general public. The office is also the repository for all military discharges if chosen by the veteran.
“We will be able to have a copy of a veteran’s military discharge printed and prepared before we attend the program.
“So many people in the city pay taxes that go to our office and do not know how to use our services, so we will be creating user-friendly brochures to explain who we are and what we do.
“I’m excited about all the potential to make this office more community oriented, whether it be Bono or Waterville, Sylvania or the city of Toledo. We’re going to energize this department,” López says.
López has three main goals for the department that she wants to accomplish during her term. “The first is to update the technology and programs by taking the e-recorder on line and instituting e-filing over the next four years.
The second is public education. Taxpayers should know what they are paying for and, third, is to establish coordinated services with all the government agencies we do business with as well as the elected officials,” she explains.
Already available on the office’s website are records going back to 1985. López is currently evaluating adding records from 1972 to 1985 on line. “If that happens, then the majority of documents would be on line. Right now, it is a matter of cost,” she says.
López has already made some significant changes in the operation of the office. “I’ve established a Business Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from companies like Port Lawrence, Louisville Title, and other title companies that we work with every day. Despite the fact that they are our number one users, these companies have never been asked to sit down at the table and discuss long-range or short-term goals with us.
“This office will also be partnering with the Board of Realtors, the Chamber of Commerce, and other similar entities. I operate under an open door policy—for both my staff and the public,” says López.
“On a personal level, the best part of this job is that now I really get to see my children because I am finally working on a regular schedule,” López says.
She and her husband Roman (Ray) Arce—an attorney with Marshall & Melhorn, LLC law firm—have two sons, NAME three-and-a-half and NAME who will be two on Valentine’s Day,
“Now that the campaign is over and with much less stress in my life, Ray can focus more upon his career. He has been very supportive this last year,” says López.
She says it is premature to talk about her future plans at the start of her four-year term.
“I have always told people I have been very blessed by God. I believe I have been empowered to help others, and that is my calling in life.”