When Utah County residents receive their first-ever mail-in ballot they will have a chance to choose a new county recorder. The current recorder, Jeff Smith, announced his retirement after nearly 10 years in the post. The two candidates vying to replace Smith are Andrea Allen and Brian Voeks, both Republicans. The winner of the June 30 primary will win the general election in November as no other party challengers filed.
Lehi Free Press: How would you describe yourself?
Allen: Dedicated public servant and super fun wife, mom, and grandma. My family roots in Utah County run very deep and I love it here. I feel very invested in helping our county be successful. I love serving the people and take pride in working hard and doing good work for them. I’m driven to make a difference.
Voeks: I know the value of hard work. Each summer from the ages of 12 through 17 I spent 40 hours per week mowing lawns. In college, I delivered pizzas while earning a political science degree from BYU. The Great Recession began during my junior year of college, and the only steady job I could find was driving a taxi during the graveyard shift. The hours were difficult, and the clientele was interesting to say the least, but that job helped me understand and internalize the struggles faced by so many members of our community, particularly during times of economic upheaval.
My wife, Rachel, and I married in 2009. The first of our four daughters was born during my first semester of law school. After graduating from the University of Utah Law School in 2013, I successfully passed Utah’s bar exam. I am an attorney in good standing with the Utah State Bar. Since 2015, I have served the people of Utah County as Commissioner Bill Lee’s senior policy adviser.
LFP: What qualifications do you have to be county recorder?
Allen: The Recorder’s Office does a lot of very technical work. Knowing the technical side is important to knowing how to make the most of the staff we have and making sure every detail is handled correctly to protect people using our services. People depend on us getting it right.
I’ve worked in the recorder’s office for 27 years and have the knowledge, skills and determination to lead the office for the next four years. I have been the assistant recorder since May 2014, and as such I’ve worked closely with supervisors and employees in our office to ensure the public is served in a timely, efficient manner. I know what technology can do to help our office, and where our employees need the most support to serve the people in the best way possible. I know what hasn’t worked, what is working, where we can make positive changes and, I think, most importantly, how to assess options and drive change moving forward, using that experience.
Voeks: What most sets me apart in this race is that I have experience putting together large budgets and have helped manage a large organization: the Utah County government. For the past five years, I have worked in the Utah County Commission office as a senior policy adviser to Commissioner Bill Lee. In that role, I have daily interactions with department heads and division managers, and I deal often with sensitive topics such as legal disputes and personnel issues.
To better develop my management skills, I attend annual leadership trainings. Since 2018, I have served on Utah County’s Investments/Benefits Committee. The three county commissioners appointed me to that position because they know I am level-headed and able to digest complex information. As an attorney, I am trained in finding, analyzing, and applying the law, which is an important skill set to have when carrying out the duties required of the recorder’s office by state law.
LFP: What is the top issue facing the County Recorder’s Office?
Allen: Growth: Utah County is growing at an astronomical rate. Since 2018, recordings have increased exponentially. With growth comes the need to push for greater efficiencies while maintaining great service. Our customer service employees are remarkable and serve the public in ways that leave the citizens feeling confident in the information they obtain and appreciative for the help they’ve received. That said, I believe we can always get better and we need to continually assess how we can improve.
Electronic filing: As of May 1, 2020, the Utah County Recorder’s Office partnered again with a vendor who provides electronic recording services. This allows people recording documents the ability to process them electronically through multiple vendors, ensuring efficient recording services to the public. This is an exciting change and I’m sure as we use the system we’ll find ways to make it more user friendly.
Credit card payments: I’ve been working with the current recorder, Jeff Smith, and the Utah County Information Systems department to offer an option to pay recording fees with a credit card. This will provide a convenient payment option to those who are recording documents. We also need to push for the lowest possible fees, but it will be good to have that system up and running.
Voeks: It has been at least 50 years, and perhaps longer, since the last time someone from outside of the Utah County Recorder’s office was elected recorder. No government office – especially one facing an enormous backlog and complaints of inefficiencies – should go that long without bringing in new leadership.
The recorder’s office is behind the times when it comes to utilizing cost-saving and time-saving technology. If elected, I will seek to implement a property fraud notification program, provide free market competition by allowing multiple e-recording vendors to work with the recorder’s office, begin accepting credit and debit cards as a form of payment, and look into building a “quick closing app” to significantly reduce the time it takes to conduct title searches on the date of property closings.
As the outsider in this race, I bring a new outlook and a fresh perspective to the issues facing the office. My goal is to find common sense solutions and implement best practices wherever possible.
LFP: How will you interact with the general public if elected?
Allen: I will use my experience to continue to work for better customer service; some are little things, and some are bigger changes that can help us serve the public better. I am a person that doesn’t just say “good enough.” I’m always looking for ways to serve the people better and more efficiently; and with a tight budget and increased need, we’re going to need that kind of commitment.
I’ve worked for many years to provide people that come to our office or contact me electronically with personal, professional, knowledgeable, and accurate information regarding the questions or concerns they have about their property. I work with many people who reach out with all sorts of issues regarding their property; the first thing I do is listen to their concerns and do all I can to understand what their issue is. I gather all the information and then do all I can to provide them with the information necessary to understand the answers to their questions. Of course, I will continue to do that, and work toward making the office even more responsive to the people we serve.
Voeks: Those who interact with the recorder’s office should receive the top-notch customer service experience they would expect when visiting a business establishment. When customers first enter the office, they will be greeted with a friendly hello and a warm smile from a staff member. Visiting the recorder’s office should always be a positive experience for those who utilize its services.
My current position in the Utah County Commission requires excellent customer service skills. I strongly believe that constituent phone calls, letters, and emails deserve a timely and complete response. Sometimes the level of correspondence can be almost overwhelming when there is a big issue, but I nevertheless respond to everyone. I don’t believe in ignoring people and hoping they just go away.
LFP: Last one for fun. What is your favorite restaurant in Utah County?
Allen: My favorite restaurant, that’s a tough one! There are many great restaurants in Utah County, so I’ll give a shout out to the ones my family and I frequent most often: Joe Banditos − I love their chips and salsa; La Casita − They have my favorite pork enchiladas with green sauce; and JDawgs, a favorite lunch spot.
Voeks: I very much enjoy El Gallo Giro, a Mexican food grill that serves amazing chicken enchiladas. As for fast food, I love The Habit Burger Grill. You can’t go wrong with any of their hamburgers.
More information about the candidates is on their websites.
Andrea Allen: http://andrea4recorder.info/
Brian Voeks: https://brian4utah.com/