Mark Chilton: Knowledge, Experience, and a Record of Continuous Improvement


In this race, I am running on my record as your Orange County Register of Deeds. My office has done more for the people of Orange County than any of my predecessors. I have increased net revenue more than 150% with 15% less staff — in less office space, while expanding the services that we provide. 

This office is important to the economy and administration of our County.  I have worked as a real estate professional for 25 years. Seventeen of those years I practiced real estate law, and eight of them I have been your Register of Deeds. I know how to train and direct our staff and continuously improve our systems because I understand what we do at a granular level. 

The core of my mandate are the functions described by North Carolina law. Every day, we deliver those services at the highest standard. We did so during the unprecedented global pandemic, and I’m incredibly proud of that. During the pandemic this office issued over 3,000 marriage licenses and recorded over 50,000 deeds and other real estate documents. We did all that while keeping both the employees in this office and the public safe from unnecessary COVID risks!  And we were able to do so much because of the many online services I had made possible through the outstanding website I implemented in the years leading up to the pandemic.

But there’s more to this position than just what the law spells out for me.  I don’t just close shop at 5 p.m. and that’s that.  As a public servant, I believe that if I can do more then I must do more. So as well as knocking it out of the park on the core Register of Deeds functions, from the very beginning I’ve also looked at ways that our office can be more and do more for the people of Orange County. 

One major way I do that is by adding new services, including passports, a new, free fraud alert system and simplified small business filings.  Up next in my third term will be better addressing waste, further savings to taxpayers with even more efficiencies, and new improvements to the important interface between the Register of Deeds office and the Tax Department.

That’s a lot. But I’ve done even more in the last seven years. Most importantly, I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to diving into our vault of historical records – including and especially the rich history of people of color in Orange County – and hauling those documents out into the light, transcribing and digitizing them, and making them available to the public for free online.  These records are some of the only genealogical information available to African American and Native American people, as they piece together the suppressed history of their families and communities. 

I can scarcely tell you how important and impactful this work has been to me and to those whose history had previously been hidden.  Every week people meet with me in the office to look through the historical record with me and discover names and locations and lives of ancestors they never knew about. Because at the same time we are serving our core functions with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, this work for the history of people of color in our County makes this office even more essential. It’s not a sideline — it’s a core additional function that our citizens deserve and that I took on willingly because I am called to it.

I originally ran for Register of Deeds in 2014 because I knew that I was just made for this role.  My education and experience, my interests and passions, made me uniquely positioned to transform this office and transform it I have.  Our state-of-the-art software has made it possible to handle 75% more documents with 15% less staff, compared to eight years ago. The result has been a massive 150% increase in net revenues returned to Orange County – totaling $1.25 million last year. That is $1.25 million that the county did not need to get from residential property taxpayers.

Mark Chilton

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