Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Two friends vying for register of deeds seat

by Rob Ireland

October 25, 2012

ELKHORN — Both candidates for the Walworth County Register of Deeds boast years of experience in county government and have first-hand knowledge about the office.

Donna R. Pruess, a Republican, and Sue Finster, a Democrat, are vying for the seat. Voters will select the next register of deeds during the Nov. 6 general election.

Finster and Pruess both work in the register of deeds office and entered the race after their boss, Connie Woolever, didn't seek re-election.

The two work together and are opponents in the election, but beyond the election are friends.

"We are good friends. We both work in the office. We both feel we are really well qualified," Pruess said. "I know it's weird. Opponents don't always get along, but we get along very well."

Finster agreed.

"Donna and I are friends," Finster wrote in an e-mail. "In the beginning, we knew that some outside people were running for the register of deeds position. We both felt that we need someone who was familiar with the office to run. We both have a job we enjoy and don't allow this competition to interfere with our friendship."

To earn a spot on the November ballot, Pruess edged out two challengers — Bob Kordus and Toni Loftus — during the Republican Primary in September.

Why did Pruess fair so well in the primary election, especially considering she really didn't campaign or even put out signs?

"I work with a lot of municipalities and assessors," she said. "They know the job I do."

When asked why people should vote for her instead of her opponent, Pruess said she has more experience working with Walworth County Government.

However, she quickly added, "We are both very qualified for the position."

Finster said she has more experience in the register of deeds Office than her opponent.

"Donna is an excellent property lister, which is the position she has held for years. However, she has had limited exposure to the register of deeds office," Finster said. "The years I have been in the office and the duties I have performed have made me familiar with the state statutes that guide us. It is valuable knowledge for the register of deeds position and the advantage in voting for me."

Pruess has worked for Walworth County since 1980 and has worked as the property lister in the register of deeds office for about seven or eight years.

"I think I would do a good job of keeping the office up to date with technology," she said. "Also, sound staff training is important."

Finster has been part of the register of deeds office for 10 years. However, she said she was an office manager for seven years prior to that and handled accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and other clerical duties, which "will aid me in the managerial duties of this office."

Finster said she also has experience working with all the aspects of the office, including updating tax rolls, recording real estate transactions, filing those documents and maintaining other vital records.

Political ties

Pruess admits her ties with the Republican Party are limited, and she considers herself to be independent.

"To be on the ballot you have to put Republican, Democrat or Independent," Pruess said before the primary. "But as far as office policies, the Republican Party has nothing to do with it."

Pruess wasn't coy when she described why she ran as a Republican.

"Basically, Walworth County is a Republican County," Pruess said.

Finster said she ran as a Democrat because "I felt it was that party that more closely reflected my political beliefs." Finster said she joined the party this year, and "it was a matter of being true to myself."

"However, I have been asked this question numerous times as many people cannot believe that this position is partisan," Finster said. "The register of deeds runs the office on a daily basis and plans for the future. No legislation is drafted by the register for the citizens of Walworth County. A political bias is not used to run this office, we just follow the state statutes that are issued."