GOP hopefuls battle to face Vanderventer, eliminate office
Updated: March 29, 2012 4:02PM
Two Republicans are vying for a chance to unseat incumbent Lake County Recorder Mary Ellen Vanderventer and then work toward phasing out the office.
Bob Bednar, 55, of Mundelein -- who lived in Lake Bluff for more than 20 years until recently -- is the treasurer for the Lake County Republican Party and has been researching how other counties handle the recorder’s office. He found that 86 of the 102 counties in Illinois either never had one or converted it with the clerk’s office with new technology.
Kendall County has the issue on the ballot this year and two years ago Tazewell County near Peoria had a candidate who ran for the job while thinking of getting rid of it and 65 percent said get rid of it in a referendum. Cook County officials, too, have discussed eliminating the elected post.
“I’d like to see Lake County join those ranks,” said Bednar, who has worked in the mortgage business and is now an insurance agent. “Eight of the 10 largest counties in the United States don’t have recorders.”
Once in office, he would work to put the issue to referendum. Instant savings would come from getting rid of the six-figure salary of the recorder and perhaps some other positions. “We’re basically doing the same functions on two different floors of the County Building,” he said.
While the recorder’s office has made a lot of cuts, “they need to do more,” he said, adding that it’s not as up-to-date as it should be. “I don’t see myself in the job for a long time,” Bednar said. “I view myself as a tax fighter.”
Bednar is not happy with his opponent in the March election, Marty Blumenthal, 59, of Highland Park, because Blumenthal originally told party officials he was running for coroner until two other people filed for the Republican primary. Then he switched to the recorder’s race and basically took his idea. “But at the same time he talks of expanding the office by opening satellites. I’m not quite sure I understand his plan,” he said.
Blumenthal is an attorney and a certified public accountant who believes the technology in the office is way behind. He complains that anything you need requires a trip to downtown Waukegan, but a substation and technology could solve that. He also said there is a dangerous lag time between a house sale and when its recorded.
“It could be two or three weeks before that deed is recorded. Someone could sell it two or three times. But the technology has been around for 10 years,” he said.
“I would create more efficiency and economy in the office,” said Blumenthal, who said the office records 300 documents a day, but it reached 700 per day during the real estate bubble.
He would also work to eliminate the office, but would need to hire a lawyer to find out for sure how it would be done.
“If it could all be done with savings, then I’m for it,” he said.
He would have to give up his law practice and get other attorneys to take more cases if he won. “I know what has to be done,” he said.