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story.lead_photo.caption Cole County candidates for Recorder of Deeds Ted Stewart and Judy Ridgeway square off Wednesday during the News Tribune-hosted candidate forum at City Hall. Photo by Mark Wilson / News Tribune.

Republican Judy Ridgeway and Democrat Ted Stewart believe their differences in experience are what set them apart and make them the best candidate for the Cole County recorder of deeds position.

Cole County Recorder of Deeds Forum

Use the video player below or access the City of Jefferson's YouTube channel to watch this forum.

Both are running for Cole County Recorder of Deeds in the Nov. 6 election and spoke during the News Tribune's candidate forum Wednesday night.

With 18 years of experience with the Recorder of Deeds Office, Ridgeway said she has worked with various aspects of the office, including working as chief deputy recorder. She added she has worked with county officials outside the office and believes she has a good rapport with those individuals.

"I don't think (Stewart) has that experience and I don't think the staff currently there have that experience because I'm not a person who started and just stayed in their lane," she said. "I've studied and embraced all of what the recorder does, so I do not think my skill level competes with Mr. Stewart's."

While he has not worked directly in the office, Stewart said, he has experience working with deeds as a business owner.

"I cannot boast 18 years of experience like my opponent but my job over the last 40 years has been problem solving, running a business and making sure my deeds were recorded properly and in a timely manner and the deeds on the properties I bought were in a orderly manner," he said, later adding he has done business in several countries and states. "(The recorder of deeds office) would have the benefit of my experience in dealing with all of these type of instruments."

He added it is up to the recorder of deeds to ensure the documents are proper. If they are not, he said, the individual should not fix them but instead send them back to the individual for correction.

Ridgeway said the recorder of deeds' primary goal is to "record, preserve and protect" documents for the county, as well as ensure everything is recorded correctly and there is consistency when recording documents.

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The recorder of deeds also needs to "safeguard the personal information of the citizens" by redacting information, Ridgeway said, since documents could contain social security numbers, ages, addresses and other personal information. She added the recorder of deeds also needs to stay up-to-date on technology to ensure someone does not hack into the computer system.

"We have been fortunate to not have any problems but I'm just saying we have to stay on top of the technology and we have to also correct issues before they happen with our computer system," she said.

Stewart agreed the computer system and security system must continually be upgraded.

"Our computer system up there has had several upgrades and there's several more needed, as it will always be," he said. "You always have to stay on top of your computer system and your systems all together."

Ridgeway edged out incumbent Recorder of Deeds Ralph Bray in the primary election in August. Stewart ran unopposed in the August election.

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