The challenger to the longtime Kennebec County Register of Deeds said she believes she is being called to public service and could be a valuable part of the Kennebec County leadership team.

Kristin Clark, 22, a Republican of Winslow, is running against Beverly Bustin-Hatheway, 82, of Hallowell, a Democrat.

The register of deeds supervises the county office in which land records are recorded, including property transfers, mortgages, liens and foreclosures among others.

Clark said she first became familiar with the elective position while she was living in Aroostook County, where her husband was the register of deeds, and she spent some time in the office.

“I found the history of each of our properties to be fascinating,” she said, “and I was surprised to learn that you can trace a single parcel of land to the founding of our state or even before, when we were part of Massachusetts.

“I have a better than average understanding of the property law and the mechanics of the register of deeds from my relationship with a former registrar,” Clark added.

In addition, she owns a business, Aurora Marketing, where her responsibilities include working with customers and vendors.

“I have run operations that makes our business successful,” Clark said. “Small businesses need to look for new ways to stay competitive and need to adjust to their surrounding continually. I can bring my experience as a small business owner to the Registry of Deeds.”

Bustin-Hatheway said she had thought she would not run for another term, because she wanted to spend some time with her husband, Darwin, but he became quite ill.

“Before he died in December, he said, ‘Bev, I think you should run again,'” she said. “He knows I am (not) one not to do something.”

Before working at the deeds office, first as deputy register for two years, then as the elected register since 2002, Bustin-Hatheway was a state senator from 1980 to 1996, including four years in Senate leadership.

“Obviously I love the work, and the work I have done there in the time I have been there has worked out well for me and the staff and the people,” she said. “I am very pleased with it.”

While she has been in office, Bustin-Hatheway said, she oversaw the conversion of records to a digital, searchable format, and the acquisition of a permanent home for the office, saving county taxpayers about $50,000 a year for the cost of leasing a building.

“I want to finish the project I started with preserving all the old, old maps from 1761 on up, and there are about 50 books,” she said. “They’re all digitized and on the web, but they are significant in their oldness and we want to preserve them.”

Clark said she believes that new blood and leadership would be beneficial to Kennebec County taxpayers.

“Land records has come a great deal in the last 20 years, and I will always be seeking new ways to not only increase the efficiency of the Registry of Deeds but also serve the title lawyers, abstractors, surveyors and ordinary citizens that frequent the registry,” she said. “I will not be a hands-off administrator. Instead, I will be a full-time, hands-on leader of the registry.”

Bustin-Hatheway pointed to the accomplishments she has achieved in office, including the work needed to make the office’s records digital and searchable, and issuing a request for proposals for a vendor to convert the office’s files to that format.

“Having been in the Legislature, I knew the world was coming to that,” she said. “I need to be able to search, and the customers need to be able to search or documents on the web.”

When the existing vendor tried to convince her that wasn’t necessary, Bustin-Hatheway said she issued a request for proposals and found a vendor who could complete the conversion and at a good price.

“I am qualified and experienced,” she said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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