The Ottumwa Courier

June 24, 2013

Experience, people skills back up decisions to run for county recorder

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Voters will have a choice in their next county recorder, something not typically seen in special elections.

On July 9, voters will cast a ballot for either Lisa Kent, Betty Stromgren or Mary Margaret Riedel-Butler, all gunning for the position of Wapello County recorder.

"One of the top reasons I'm running is any time you can advance your career and learn more knowledge, that's a plus," said Stromgren, currently the county board of supervisors' office manager. "And I think the citizens should have a choice. It's typical for Wapello County to only have one person run for an office, and I just feel more people should be interested in public service, in public offices, to get their name out there and give it a try."

Stromgren said her experience as office manager qualifies her for the job, as does her 16 years working for Wapello County. She began working in the county auditor's office for two years before changing jobs to the board of supervisors, where she has worked for the last 14 years.

"Even in this position, I do my work for the citizens of Wapello County," she said. "They are, kind of, my employers."

Lisa Kent, the county's deputy recorder for nearly 11 years, has filled in for the recorder position left vacant by Joyce Hass' retirement in May.

"Right now I'm doing the day-to-day duties of the recorder since she left," Kent said. "It's an increase in the workload because she did electronic filings, and now I'm doing them every day. There's a lot of additional bookkeeping, so it's of increased importance that everything be accurate."

Running for recorder "seemed like the natural thing to do," Kent said.

"I'm already doing the work, so it just made sense for me to run," she said. "I love working in the recorder's office. I always have."

Kent said she fully expected to have some competition in the election.

"I didn't figure it would be an easy road to go down," she said. "There seems to always be competition when there's an opening in one of these elected positions."

Riedel-Butler, currently Clerk III in the county auditor's office, said she decided to run for the position in order to better herself and broaden her horizons.

"I've worked here for 10 years, and I feel like I'm ready," she said. "I have manager experience. I had my own flower shop for a long time, and I was a programmer's analyst at Principal Financial Group. I started out here in the treasurer's office and moved [to the auditor's] office around two years ago."

Riedel-Butler said her hardworking demeanor, technical skills and ability to work well with the public all qualify her for the job.

"A lot of people don't realize that the auditor's, assessor's and recorder's office all work in conjunction," she said. "We work together, especially on real estate. That's a big plus, being able to see the whole picture."

She said she would make sure everyone who walks in the recorder's office is treated fairly, as well as her employees.

"I want people to know that I will always treat people and my employees with respect," she said.

— To follow reporter Chelsea Davis on Twitter, head to @ChelseaLeeDavis.