The 2012 election season is in full swing. The top of the ballot, Romney vs. Obama, draws most of the media attention. Even local races near the top, such as Moffitt’s State House seat, come up in political conversation. However, one local race that rarely is the topic of dinner conversations, should raise the eyebrows of even the most casual political follower.
When looking at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds candidates this year, one has to scratch their head at the incumbent. Who is Drew Reisinger and how did he become the current Register of Deeds? Furthermore, why has it been 94 years since a non-incumbent was elected to that office?
The 29 year-old Reisinger is a Florida native and Appalachian State graduate who studied Anthropology. Until becoming the Register of Deeds, he spent his professional life in liberal political activism. Included in this is work for Grassroots Solutions in DC, as well as campaign work for the Obama 2008 candidacy, Gordon Smith for Asheville City Council in 2009, and progressive Patsy Keever’s 2010 efforts.
Then, upon the retirement of 33-year Register of Deeds Otto DeBruhl, Reisinger was thrust into his first non-campaign position. In a YouTube video questioning him of his qualifications for this office, Reisinger reassured that although he had no experience for the job, he was taking a two-day class in Raleigh. A self-proclaimed community organizer is now in charge of some of the most important documents in Buncombe County, with no prior experience handling such.
Among Reisinger’s accomplishments in office is reducing the salary of the Register of Deeds, as he states, by 40%. Yet this was out of his control. Replacing a 33-year incumbent, the starting salary was automatically going to be lower. Here he is taking credit for something he himself did not do. That trend continues in his budget claims.
On his website, Reisinger has claimed to reduce the overall budget of the Register of Deeds by $238,500. Upon investigation, Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene had the following to say regarding the Register of Deeds office staff reductions, “Overall, with the reduction of eight positions and adding back four at a lower cost, we will save $273,000 annually.”
At the time, when blame for lost positions might be put on his back, Reisinger had this to say, “This isn’t so much up to us. This is more in Wanda Greene‘s court. Most of this was already in the works prior to the register of deeds election.” Now that it is election year, he is taking the credit.
The last time Buncombe County elected a non-incumbent Register of Deeds was in 1918. Since that time, every Register of Deeds was replaced through the Democratic Party via retirement, or sudden death. That’s right, after serving for 15 years, William E. “Winky” Digges was found dead in a motel room on the west side of Asheville. He lived in north Asheville. No investigation was launched.
Now that position is held by a man appointed by the Democratic Party, who’s resume was essentially blank regarding qualifications for the office. To further add to the suspicion, this election year, according to 2nd Quarter Filings, Reisinger has raised nearly $30,000 for reelection. His Facebook pleads most recently for $8,000 more. What would it benefit the Democratic Party not only to maintain this position for a century, but help raise tens of thousands of dollars to keep their appointee in office?
Perhaps it is just politics as usual. Perhaps it is simply just the way things are. Through retiree appointments and mysterious deaths, one party has kept control of an office for one hundred years. In 2012 there is once again a lot of money being spent to keep an appointed man in that very office. The voters of course can change that, if they wish. More importantly though, this subject should now come up at the dinner table more often.