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Two candidates vie for Register of Deeds position

REGISTER OF DEEDS CANDIDATES are Barbara Davidson (left) and Julie Allen Burke. The County Commission plans to vote May 8 to appoint one of them as interim Register of Deeds, succeeding the late Hilda Patterson. The interim appointee would serve until the general election in August, 2018.

Two candidates vie for Register of Deeds position
Commissioners will vote May 8

By Steve Short

Two candidates are vying to become the interim Register of Deeds for Gibson County.
Julie Allen Burke of Milan and Barbara Davidson of Dyer are finalists for the position. County Commissioners plan to vote May 8 to select an interim Register who would serve until the general election, August 2018.
An interim Register is needed to succeed the late Hilda Patterson, who served 32 years as Register. She passed away March 12.
In a recessed meeting April 24, county commissioners voted three times but failed to get a 13-vote majority to appoint an interim Register. Burke, Davidson and Loretta Bush, the Deputy Register were all candidates to succeed Ms. Patterson. Davidson received 12 votes, one shy of the total recommended by County Attorney Floyd Flippin. Burke got 7 votes; Bush 3.
The appointed Register will serve until August, 2018, when a new Register will be elected. The county primary election, if called for by parties, will be May 1, 2018. The qualifying deadline for all candidates in the May 1 primary is Feb. 15, 2018 at noon. The first day that petitions can be issued is Nov. 17, 2017, assuming a primary election is called.
“I’ve had lots of questions from people,” Mayor Tom Witherspoon told commissioners before the April 24 vote, asking legislators to be impartial and weigh candidates’ qualifications. “Vote for that person and hire that person, like you would be hiring them to run your business, because, in effect, that’s what you guys are doing,” said Witherspoon. “You are appointing this person to run the people’s business, until the election comes around. That’s a big deal and a big responsibility for you guys. It’s an honor for you, and I hope you see it as an honor that it is.”
Com. Coy Yergin nominated Barbara Davidson. Com. Mike Longmire nominated Julie Allen Burke. Com. Larry Kimery nominated Loretta Bush, the Chief Deputy Register and acting Register.

Candidates’ remarks
In remarks to commissioners, Julie Burke cited her “proven leadership experience.” She is Chief Executive of the Milan Chamber of Commerce. Burke served as Chair of the Gibson Co. Workforce Development Board and Coordinator of the county Three Star program, which helped get funding discounts for fire trucks, road and utility improvements. She helped organize the county JumpStart Scholarship program, which has provided 300 scholarships to local high school students. She said her real estate experience would also be an asset.
“I am convicted to honor the legacy of Mrs. Hilda (Patterson) and bring a new era of leadership and fresh energy to the office of Gibson Co. Register of Deeds,” said Burke. “We have an obligation to the taxpayers of Gibson Co., to insure that the office of Register of Deeds is running as efficiently as it should with the use of technology and the teamwork of the staff. My approach would be to meet individually with each staff person and get their ideas on what they think is working well in the office, and what their vision is for any improvements they recommend.”

Burke said she visited other county offices in West Tennessee to gain “trade secret” knowledge about the Register position. “I have become familiar with the exact technology, proprietary computer software programs and processes of the office,” she said.
Loretta Bush noted that she worked with Ms. Patterson several years. “I’m confident my years of experience qualify me to keep the office running smoothly,” she said. “I humbly ask for your vote. If you find it in your hearts to appoint me as the next Register of Deeds, I will do the job to the best of my ability and in as cost effective a manner as possible.”
Ms. Bush will serve as acting Register, but did not win enough votes to be a candidate May 8.
Barbara Davidson noted that she’s worked in the Register of Deeds office since 2001. “I feel like I was taught by the best,” said Davidson. “I would love the opportunity to be appointed as the Register of Deeds. I know they are going to be very big shoes to fill, but I think I can do this.” Davidson listed changes she would like to see occur in the Register of Deeds office.
“The rest of the deed books and plats need to be back scanned, so they could be in our system and so people could view these online,” she said. “People come into our office and run a title further than thirty years back. This would be a plus for our office, and for anyone that does use our office.”

How they voted
Commissioners voted three times in an unsuccessful attempt to get a 13-vote majority to appoint a new Register of Deeds.
The first vote involved three candidates, with these vote total results: Barbara Davidson 10, Julie Burke 6, Loretta Bush 3. Eric Egbert and Marvin Sikes abstained. 4 absent.
Commissioners then voted twice with Burke and Davidson as finalist candidates, and the results were the same for both votes: Barbara Davidson 12, Julie Allen Burke 7, 2 abstentions, 4 absent.
Voting for Davidson: Morgan, Kimery, Summers, Lawson, Locke, McEwen, Littleton, Pillow, Steele, Yergin, Childress, Moss. Voting for Burke: Cunningham, Longmire, Lewis, Tubbs, Nance, Cotham, Wall.
Abstaining: Egbert, Sikes.
Absent: Hughes, Carr, McLin, Flake.

COURTING VOTES – Barbara Davidson (standing) talked with county commissioners during a commission meeting April 24. An employee in the Register of Deeds office, Ms. Davidson is one of two candidates vying to be appointed as interim Register. Julie Allen Burke is the other candidate.

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