They also keep copies of state statutes on file. All these records are made with the use of microfilm, which has an extremely long shelf life, Ms. Kelly said.
While the office gathers and preserves records, the actual microfilming work is down by a contracted company via mail.
The fact that property tax is Pinal County’s main source of revenue could be a driving force behind the policy to mostly keep property records, she said.
Other records like birth, marriage and death certificates are mostly handled by other agencies like the Arizona Vital Statistics Office, a state ran organization.
The only type of death certificate they tend to track are those that could be potentially involved in an inheritance dispute; again, because of tax monitoring reasons, she said.
With early voting beginning soon on Oct. 11, both candidates are ramping up their campaigns hoping to take full advantage of those willing to lock in their vote ahead of time, they said.
While both candidates mentioned time pressures as part of campaign life, Ms. Kelly said that her retirement from the county means that she can focus on the election.
Ms. Kelly retired last October from her job as deputy county recorder because of a county statute that requires any county employee seeking public office to leave his or her job to avoid any conflicts of interest, she said.
“ Those retirement benefits have helped me a lot in freeing up my time, so I can go out there without having to find a job,” she said in a phone interview Sept. 25.
Ms. Ross said that the way Ms. Kelly quit was an unusually, if totally legal, way to free up time and expressed concern that Ms. Kelly could be taking advantage of the county’s retirement system.
“ When my opponent retired from the county, she took a full retirement salary and net from the salary, and now wants to get an elected official’s salary,” Ms. Ross said in a phone interview Sept. 25.
In contrast, Ms. Ross is choosing to keep her job as a senior negotiator for IBM while she runs.
“ To be honest, I’m making a career sacrifi ce because I’m still employed, but I feel that the kind of people that keep running over and over need to learn. If you only have one job your whole life then how are you going to bring transformation into that office? I don’t think my opponent has answered those questions.”
Ms. Kelly doesn’t see the same conflict, she said.
According to Ms. Kelly, her benefits will stop if she happens to win the upcoming election and be replaced by the plan for elected officials. If not, future retiring benefi ts should take her past years of work experience into account, she said.
As for her abilities, she said her 34 years of experience in the office means that she knows everything about the job.
“If something catastrophic were to happen, we need to make sure that something needs to happen with those records.
These are things we always need to know. I can make sure that can happen. The job of recorder isn’t the most glamorous in the government, but it needs to be done right or bad things happen,” she said. “Let’s say the electricity were to go down. Having all these records available on microfilm is going to let us view them in almost any type of environment. You don’t need electricity for that document.”
Ms. Kelly, who said she has been working for the office in some way since she was 17 years old, is a graduate of Florence High School. She is also a graduate of the Arizona State University’s Bob Ramsey Executive Education Program where she became a certified public manager.
In addition, she holds a certificate from the Eller College of Management Southwest Leadership Program from the University of Arizona, multiple training courses in micrographic and record management through VAJones Association and the Arizona Department of Library and Archives.
Ms. Kelly believes her extensive career in the recorder’s office is the main reason she deserves to be elected.
“ While in the recorder’s office, I worked in every job position from counter clerk, bookkeeper, imaging, micrographics technician, voter registration, early voting and finished my career as the chief deputy recorder,” she said. Ms. Ross’s education consists of a master’s in business administration and she believes her primary qualification is her professional history in the private sector where she has worked for IBM as a senior negotiator, she said.
“I’ve handled every type of deal imaginable from fortune 500 companies to multimillion- dollar deals. I think my background is very strong for what the job requires,” Ross said. “I’ve sent people out to negotiate $100 million business deals. You can’t do that kind of stuff if you’re dumb because we can easily put the whole company in jeopardy if we mess up,” She said that working at IBM has given her a set of skills that the recorder’s office could take advantage of and her business background will help her think outside of the box.
“My opponent is running on what seems to be a so-called clerical position. I don’t think those are very strong qualifications. I could stand here and tell you I know how to scan documents and work a window, but I don’t think that’s what the job should be. If I’m elected, my private sector background will match up with what the position should be, an administrative one,” she said. “ What have you done when you’ve been around for 30 years and not done anything?”
Ms. Ross plans to improve the office in three ways: improving customer service, making sure that voter records are accurate and keeping the office’s budget balanced.
“Right away, I know those are the ways I can improve technology because I’ve talked to other recorders in Arizona, and they are really thinking outside of the box and improving their services. Look at a county like Maricopa. They are developing a remote record system that seems promising,” she said.
Ms. Kelly disagrees and thinks that the office is centered on making its services easier for citizens.
For example, kiosks in many county ran buildings and libraries have been outfitted with remote access software allowing many to use these services without having to physically visit the main facility, Ms. Kelly said.
These manned kiosks host all the required hardware, software and security measures required to keep the data secure, she said.
Recording kiosks like these were pioneered by the Pinal County Recorder’s Office, she said.
Ms. Kelly has considered developing a system for home connections, but isn’t aware of suitable technology that exists to guard the data.
According to Ms. Ross, the office has made some mistakes over the years.
“I’ve looked back 10 years into the office’s budget, and I’ve found that they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in acquiring these technologies to streamline their office, but then they hire another 20 plus employees during the recession. I guess they weren’t correctly utilizing the technology and instead were just throwing bodies at the problem.”
Ms. Kelly said that Ms. Ross’s timeline is off.
“She’s mistaken about (the about 20 hires). We haven’t hired anyone new since I became the deputy county recorder. I believe she’s talking about when we hired additional staff to help during Pinal County’s explosive growth and those expenses were needed at the time.”
When asked about her opinion of Ms. Ross, Ms. Kelly said that she was too unfamiliar with her opponent to offer a fair comment.
“I’ve been really focused on campaigning, but I’m sure she is a fine person,” she said. “I’ve been busy knocking on a lot of doors and talking to a lot of people. I’ve been all over the county. Mostly, I’ve been occupied telling people who I am and explain what it is that the county recorder office does.”