Your property records and documents matter during election time.

Two candidates are seeking to challenge the incumbent, Michael E. Kozikowski, 62, a Democrat, for the position of New Castle County Recorder of Deeds, which he has held for 12 years.

Republican David Tancredi, 38, of Newark, and Libertarian Shawn P. Long Jr., 20, of New Castle are challenging Kozikowski in the Nov. 4 general election.

The recorder of deeds is the official tasked with recording, receiving, processing, and delivering property deeds, deed restrictions, plats, mortgages, federal tax liens, and other documents for residents and businesses, according to the county.

The job also calls for managing large amounts of money.

Revenue for the county through the office of recorder of deeds in 2013 was an estimated $6,849,300, all from service fees set by the county council. The office has a $2,265,738 operating budget for 2014.

The Transcript asked the three candidates about their record and qualifications for the job of recorder of deeds. Long did not respond to our questions by deadline, but according to his candidate profile he is a tow truck driver and first time candidate.

Here are Kozikowski’s and Tancredi’s answers.

Michael E. Kozikowski

Q Why are you running for Recorder of Deeds?

A I like the challenges that are related to addressing matters of interest that impact the Real Estate Industry (law firms, lending institutions, title companies, government and the citizenry). I enjoy being a co-operational style manager where my staff is treated with dignity and respect. My staff participates in a work environment where issues and concerns are evaluated with a positive attitude. Most importantly, looking back to the last twelve years as your Recorder of Deeds, I have determined that what I like the most about this elected position is serving the people of New Castle County. I see this position as being the gatekeeper for the citizenry. My objectives are to always put the customer first. My staff and I must strive for continuous improvement so we can work together to provide positive outcomes for our internal and external customers.

Q What experience did you bring to the job before you were elected?

A In my 35 years of work in the private sector, I held a plethora of leadership positions with the International Brotherhood of Iron Workers and the United Automobile Workers. As an iron worker, I held the position of chairman of the Coalition of Political Education (C.O.P.E.) Local 451 as their legislative representative. In my 21 years with General Motors as a Skilled Trades Millwright and a very active member of UAW Local 435, I held the chairman positions of the education, legislation, election committees, executive board trustee chairman, editor of the Local 435 newsletter, and the state UAW Community Action Program (CAP) newsletter. I served nine years as the state UAW CAP vice president representing the twelve UAW Locals in the State of Delaware. These various positions held and my bachelor’s degree in human resources management have given me the knowledge, skills and abilities to represent the citizens of New Castle County.

Q What are the problems facing the office of Recorder of Deeds now and how are you working to solve them?

A Currently, all issues have been resolved. My administration has in place an Empowerment/Continuous Improvement Matrix that provides the staff with a communication network that addresses issues head on in the ROD world of work. This lateral communication enables all involved. Any issue brought to the attention of the administration is directly addressed.

Q A fun question: what did you want to be when you were growing up?

A I was always fascinated with the space program. Astronomy and earth science were my favorite subjects. I would cut out all of the articles in the paper and magazines related to NASA, the solar system etc. I had visions of attending space camp that would better prepare me for when I became an astronaut. Even though I never made it to outer space, I found my place on earth by representing the citizens of New Castle County as your Recorder of Deeds.

David Tancredi

Q Why are you running for Recorder of Deeds?

A For several years I have been active in the Civic League for New Castle County. During that time I have seen many friends and neighbors struggle with issues related to the office of Recorder of Deeds. This includes document fraud and document errors that have affected both individuals and whole communities. It has been eight years since county residents had a discussion about what they expect from their Recorder of Deeds. I've come to believe we should expect more.

We've just been through the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression. There's still a lot of suffering in the county and many people lost their homes. Because the crisis primarily affected housing, there has been a quiet revolution in the services Recorders offer across the nation. Services to prevent fraud, better coordination with social services, improved access to veterans benefits and improved consumer protections. If elected I'd like to bring those enhanced services to New Castle County.

Q What experience did you bring to the job before you were elected?

A I've spent the past ten years working across New Castle County as an electrical engineer for Delmarva Power. During my career, I've managed contractors, major utility projects, and worked emergency storm duty to restore power to residents. I'm currently the supervising engineer for our Energy Engineering program that operates in Delaware and Maryland. The Energy Engineers provide guidance for both homes and businesses on technical energy issues. I believe I have the managerial experience necessary to administer the office of Recorder of Deeds.

Beyond my managerial experience, I'm the vice president of the Milltown-Limestone Civic Alliance and a member of the Civic League for New Castle County. I sit on the public advisory committee for WILMAPCO which is an organization that deals with traffic planning for the region. I also assist the Committee of 100 with their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program at Concord High School.

Q What are the problems facing the office of Recorder of Deeds now and how are you working to solve them?

A My experiences in the civic league have shown me that document fraud and errors can just devastate people’s lives. That's why I want to institute a fraud alert program. Residents would be able to sign up to get alerts whenever any document affecting their property passes through the office. That way a homeowner will know if someone put a lien on their home or altered a property record. I would also like to work with the state legislature to develop additional programs to protect residents against document fraud. I've also seen plenty of violations of deed restrictions in the county. I'd like to work with the Land Use Department to update their permitting process to reduce violations of deed restrictions.

I think one problem in Delaware is that we do a poor job of coordinating federal, state, and local services to those in need. I'd like to use the Recorder of Deeds office to better highlight services to help homeowners and veterans. I'd also like to integrate electronic documents held by the Recorder with the main New Castle County website. Finally, I want to make sure there is good coordination between the Recorder, the Consumer Protection Unit, and the Community Ombudsman in the Attorney's Generals Office.

Q A fun question: what did you want to be when you were growing up?

A An astronaut.