Candidates offer different management stylesThe office of register of deeds is a matter of life and death — records that is — and much more.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
The office of register of deeds is a matter of life and death — records that is — and much more.
It may not be not be the most glamorous challenge on the Aug. 14 ballot, but the office’s role is critical. The office is responsible for recording documents pertaining to real estate, births, deaths, marriages and military discharges. The office records more than 10,000 documents annually and is responsible for helping the public, banks, lawyers and abstract firms access those records. Overseeing the operation for the last six years is Democrat Gayle Wahner, who is facing a challenge for the post from fellow Democrat Mike Kapalin.
Whatever voters decide Tuesday, the winner of the earlier-than-usual primary will run unopposed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“I have many years of experience with managing people,” said Kapalin, who works in facilities management for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. “I’m organized, service oriented and like working with people to complete whatever challenge is presented. … I believe I can accomplish these goals because of my honesty, integrity and compassion for service. I hope this will bring a refreshing change to the Office of Register of Deeds.”
In addition to his work as UW-Superior, Kapalin says he has worked as a special education teacher, regional training and development manager for a fortune 500 company and a retail store manager.
Wahner says the strength of her candidacy stems from the years she has managed the Register of Deeds office, now in her sixth year, education, training, community involvement and leadership. She has more than 20 years management experience.
“I am the most qualified candidate for the Office of Register of Deeds because of my six years experience as the present register of deeds,” Wahner said. “I am running for re-election … because of my strong commitment to community service and my desire to provide quality public service.
“I pride myself on being an accomplished administrator with strong organizational, technical and interpersonal skills. I am committed to exceptional customer-focused, results oriented service to the citizens and businesses of Douglas County.”
Wahner holds a Bachelor of Science from UW-Superior in medical technology, certifications in gerontology, not-for-profit administration, office management and electronic records management. She earned a doctorate in administration from Kennedy Western University.
Kapalin earned a Bachelor of Science at UW-Stevens Point and special education certification at UW-Whitewater.
“As a manager, I have hired, assessed talent, evaluated and improved individual performance through training and motivational skills,” Kapalin said. “I’m organized, service-oriented and believe in leading by example.”
Kapalin said he decided to run for the office after talking to people around Douglas County that have used the Register of Deeds Office.
“I plan to assess the needs of the department,” Kapalin said. “I want to make a visit to the office a more comfortable experience and make customer service a top priority.”
Both candidates agree the office plays a vital role maintaining documents that are significant to the public interest.
“My vision for the register of deeds office is to continue technological advances through computerized real estate records on the internet,” Wahner said. “This goal will also result in additional revenue for the county. My goal of accuracy in documentation and effective recordkeeping along with ease of retrieval and protection of vital records will be accomplished through the implementation of electronic recordkeeping systems.”
“Soon we will be implementing software, which will allow customers to electronically send us documents,” she said.
To accomplish that, Wahner said, she believes it’s important to empower her staff by giving them the tools and training to be successful in their jobs.
Kapalin said his approach would be customer-oriented.
“If I am elected I plan to make myself accessible to those who need the services,” Kapalin said. “I would instill customer service through leading by example. I look forward to working with the staff to see completion of projects already started. “A personal goal would be to attend city, village and town meetings. I have had many people actually ask me, ‘what does the Office of Register of Deeds do?’ I feel this is one way to make the office more visible and approachable.
“I believe I can accomplish these goals because of my honesty, integrity and compassion for service. I hope this will bring a refreshing change to the office of Register of Deeds, Kapalin said.
“I have a managerial role in providing services to customers and businesses,” Wahner said. “I pride myself on providing friendly and professional customer service. I put strong emphasis on open and equal access to all.”