Every four years, voters across the state have the opportunity to elect their respective county register of deeds.
As a smaller, locally-elected position, the register of deeds office doesn’t attract the same attention in general elections as the more glamorous presidential and congressional campaigns.
Because of this, you likely mulled over the ROD position without putting much thought into it when filling out this year’s ballot. Maybe you stuck with your party preference to help with the decision or maybe you noticed the “Reid for Deeds” signs in the area and were compelled to vote for the independent candidate.
Despite the lack of attention to the position in an election year, the register of deeds plays an important role in local government.
“The register of deeds office provides a crucial service for Winnebago County residents given that we record and keep real estate-related documents as well as issue birth, death and marriage certificates,” Winnebago County register of deeds Natalie Strohmeyer said.
The ROD office is the official repository of real estate and vital records for the county and is in charge of archiving the records and providing public access to them.
Strohmeyer said she enjoys this organizational aspect of the role, and that it was one of the main things that attracted her to the position.
“The register of deeds offices houses hundreds of thousands of records,” she said. “How easily you can access that information depends on the organization.”
The office is responsible for filing and recording all land ownership and transfer of any property in the county. They essentially provide the who, what and when of all properties, playing a crucial role in the historical and economic records of the county.
Having an elected official in charge of real estate records is especially important considering property taxes are based on the records held by the ROD.
The ROD’s other primary function is filing all vital records, which consists of all marriages, births and deaths that occur in the county.
Strohmeyer said she really enjoys the historical aspect of her job, being that she is able to look back at the family genealogy and historical records of the people who lived in the county over the years.
The Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association (WRDA) describes the duties of the register of deeds as “a way of putting the world on notice that something important has happened or will happen.”
ROD plays a critical cog in the wheel of county government by issuing these important records and archiving them online for easy access.
Strohmeyer said on a typical day, she and her staff are dealing with daily document recordings and vital records requests.
“My main responsibility is ensuring that the duties of the office are carried out accurately, efficiently and in accordance with state statutes,” she said.
As the county register of deeds, Strohmeyer also serves as the liaison between the ROD office and the county board of supervisors to approve any county ordinances that would benefit the ROD office and for budget approval.
She’s also a part of WRDA, where she serves on the vitals committee as well as vice-chair of the Winnebago County Land Information Council, and a member of the Electronic E-Recording Council of Wisconsin.
This year Strohmeyer won her second term as Winnebago County ROD against political newcomer Seth Reid in a near landslide victory.
Of all the county-level elections in Winnebago County, the register of deeds was the only contested race.
Strohmeyer was elected to the Winnebago County register of deeds office back in 2016 after serving in the register of deeds office in Outagamie County for over three decades.
Strohmeyer took over the office after the previous ROD Julie Pagel retired in January 2016. Pagel had served as Winnebago County register of deeds for 11 years and had worked for the county for over three decades.