Democratic County Clerk Nominee Joanne Rajoppi
County Clerk candidates answers Patch's questions.
Name: Joanne Rajoppi
Address: Union, NJ
Length in County: Lifelong resident
Family Life: Two sons
Education: B.A., cum laude, Case Western Reserve University
M.P.A., Center for Public Service, Seton Hall University
Professional Life: Former Journalist, Newark Evening News
Former Editor, NJ Carpenters' Funds Publications
Former Adjunct Professor, Rutgers University, Political Science
Former Vice-President, Springfield Board of Education
Former Mayor, Councilwoman, Springfield Township Committee
Former Chairperson, Member, Union County Board of Freeholders
Former NJ Assistant Secretary of State
Former Union County Register of Deeds and Mortgages
Former President, New Jersey Association of Counties
Former President, NJ Constitutional Officers Association
Former President, NJ Women's Political Caucus
Past Chairman, NJ Ad Hoc Committee on Property Recording
Former Member, Governor's Task Force on Local Partnerships
Second Vice-President, IACREOT (International Association of County
Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers)
Union County Clerk, 1996-Current
A. What are the three most important issues facing the Office of County Clerk? (Please list your answers.)
A. The three most important issues facing the County Clerk Office are safeguarding the integrity of elections, preserving and protecting property documents and keeping costs for these mandated functions streamlined.
B. Please explain your answers in question A? (Please keep your answers to 175 words each.)
B. When the 2009 Presidential Primary voting machine results produced serious tallying discrepancies I took the leadership role in the state to force an independent analysis of the machines against the legal threats of the voting machine company. The case proceeded to NJ Superior Court where we were successful in obtaining greater security measures to protect the integrity of the results.
The Union County Property Records and Indices from 1977 to current are accessible on a property website we designed in an easily navigable system. Multiple security procedures, firewalls and monitoring devices protect these records. We continue to fight and advocate against the mass purchase of indices by third party for-profit companies which, once purchased, can jeopardize the integrity of ownership and chain of title.
We constantly monitor costs and our revenue stream. When the housing market down turned I introduced new services to offset the lost. We also have trained personnel to perform those tasks, once outsourced to vendors which have saved taxpayer money.
C. How do you propose to safeguard the integrity of the election process? (Please keep your answer to 200 words.)
C. Safeguarding elections is a sacred commitment and I have taken a very pro-active role in preserving the integrity of the voting process as demonstrated by the 2008 NJ court case I participated in with the voting machine company over tally discrepencies. I have always employed two ways to tally results which discovered the discrepancy and alerted other County Clerks in the state to the issue.
Additionally, several years ago I purchased an optical scan system for the tallying of Mail In Ballots by the Board of Elections as a preventive measure against questionable or unreadable chad ballots. This new program provides a hard copy backup and has proven to have a 99.9% validity, the highest in electoral tallying machines.
D. How can the Office of County Clerk generate more revenue for the county government? (Please keep your answer to 300 words.)
D. In general, the County Clerks revenue is dictated by the number of property and other mandated documents which are recorded. This figure, of course, is dependent on the state of the economy, in particular, the housing market. A state mandated recording fee generated approximately $5.9 million for the county last
year. One way to generate income is to add services. We have introduced new services to customers such as Passport Photo which generated $54,000 last year.
In addition we introduced credit cards to both our property website and office
locations to allow greater accessibility and ease in obtaining documents. Opening
our satellite office to evening hours and Saturday hours has also generated income
bringing customers from other counties who do not have the access to evening or
Saturday hours in their respective home counties.
E. Given the County Clerk's job is more administrative and management in nature than policy making, what administrative and management skills do you bring to this position? (Please keep your answer to 300 words.)
E. I bring a wealth of administrative and management skills to the Office of County Clerk. My master's degree in Public Administration along with my 20 years teaching Public Administration at Rutgers places me on the cutting edge of new techniques and trends in the field. Having served as County Register of Deeds and Mortgages for many years and now as County Clerk I have had experienced with large, diverse staffs, training and team building. My dedicated staff is known for their efficiency, courtesy and going the extra mile for customers. In addition, I introduced both long term and short term strategic planning to the Office of County Clerks which brings more efficiency to the functions and processes of the
F. How do you propose to make the Office of the County Clerk more efficient? (Please keep your answer to 200 words.)
F. While the County Clerk office is efficient and streamlined, I believe we can go even further in the future. One of the innovations we introduced in the economic downturn was to re-train staff to learn additional tasks, such as back scanning and indexing of documents, specialized tasks that had been outsourced in the past due to their time intensive and special nature. By having staff deployed in down time to learn these tasks, we saved vendor costs and maximized our efficiency.
Another technique we introduced several years ago is cross and multi-training of staff in divergent functions. This involves hands on training and is still being conducted until every employee is proficient in several functions.
G. How do you propose safeguarding and processing property records transactions in Union County? (Please keep your answer to 300 words.)
G. One of the challenges of safeguarding property records in the 21st century is dealing with the benefits and issues of technology. Security and protection of records is tantamount to their integrity. We constantly monitor firewalls and research new security programming. Cyber attacks and mass database buying by outside vendors pose a serious threat to the integrity of homeowners' documents.
Additionally, protection of personal information, redacting social security numbers,
and other personal identifiers, is another safeguard important in protecting citizens.
H. Is the Office of County Clerk better off than it was five years ago? (Please keep your answer to 250 words.)
H. I believe the Office of County Clerk is better off than it was five years ago. A successful manager and administrator must be attune to the changes which occur in the economy and in technology to be successful. We have deployed staff to be more cost-efficient, introduced new services to offset the downturn in the housing market and subsequent decrease in property revenues, and provided greater accessibility to customers generating business from around the state.