Name: Amanda Ruocco
Immediate family members: Todd Hillermann - Husband, Eric Ruocco - Father, Katherine Ruocco - Mother, Candace Ruocco Valentine - Sister, Alex Ruocco - brother, Michael Ruocco - brother
Occupation: School Operations Administrator
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Office sought: Recorder of Deeds
Party affiliation: Republican
Previous elected positions and years served: No previous elected offices held.
Why are you running?: As a lifelong proponent of a government of the people and for the people, I believe in government transparency and accountability. The current Recorder has been holding this office for over thirty years and this is simply too long. After three decades, one loses perspective, loses touch and new insight needs to be had in order to better understand the public’s needs.
Our current Recorder of Deeds Office is lacking in technology and customer service. I also have concerns with regard to the high recording fees.
From my days managing land records in a multiple attorney office, I found many clients coming to our office for very simple transactions. These transactions included transferring property upon death and simple transfer deeds. Our Recorder’s office fails to make these simple forms available for residents. This failure causes the resident to either forgo the transaction or be burdened by paying an attorney hundreds of dollars for what they can do independently.
More robust remote access to land records and searches is also needed. From my operations management experience and working alongside our clients, I understand the customer’s needs and that greater customer service and technology will save St. Clair County residents’ time and money.
What is the biggest issue facing St. Clair County, and how should elected officials and county staff approach it?: St. Clair County has many devastating problems with which to deal. Families have grave lack of opportunity, One of every four residents in St. Clair County is on food stamps, we have extraordinary high unemployment, and our local and state tax burden and property tax burden is catastrophic. St. Clair County government fails to properly manage their budget and there is a huge lack of transparency and accountability.
What is the biggest issue facing St. Clair County? I suppose it depends on whether you are the single mother struggling to feed her children or the resident who feels that they have no representation with their tax dollars. All of these issues are very serious and need to be resolved.
How can we start resolving these issues? A good start would be to allow the county board to review all expenditures of our tax dollars. We can then hold our elected officials accountable. Right now they play hot potato and the blame game. This is unacceptable. If our county government truly put people before politics I think that those who live here could have faith and trust in our government. This would also encourage new business and economic opportunity for residents.
What improvements do you want to see in how the recorder’s office?: Fees - The Illinois statute with regard to recording fees states that there is a minimum fee of $12.00. Our Recorder presently charges $39.25 which is not legally permissible unless changed by county ordinance. I’ve found no such ordinance, have done a FOIA request of the same, and to date have received no authority allowing the $39.25 fee.
Customer Service - Our Recorder’s office needs to conduct itself as more of a public service than government agency. That is, the Recorder needs to actively evaluate what customers’ needs are and create processes to satisfy these needs. Some examples of this would be to provide simple forms such as transfer on death deeds, affidavits and simple transfer deeds. This way residents could avoid costly probate administration and burdensome attorney fees. Attorneys are needed with certain transactions. But if a parent simply wants to leave their real estate to their children at death, we shouldn’t be forcing residents, who are already overtaxed and burdened, to incur hundreds of dollars of attorney fees.
Technology – Technology should be used to increase customer service and make it simpler for residents, attorneys, title companies, realtors and others to view land records and related documents remotely.
The county has cut back costs in recent years. What would you do to minimize expenditures?: In order to minimize expenditures, without sacrificing service to residents, costs would need to be evaluated and categorized as direct or indirect costs. Direct costs can be traced to or caused by a particular service, product or practice activity. Indirect costs cannot be traced to a particular service, product or practice activity and cannot be directly measured. We would also have to identify which costs are fixed and which are variable. Once these costs are defined we can evaluate the process(es) by which the Recorder’s Office renders their services. All costs of such processes will be identified and we can then better see where we can improve cost effectiveness without adversely affecting customer service.
I would also carefully review all vendor agreements & supply contracts. This review would be done to be sure that St. Clair County is getting the best bang for its buck. Being a careful steward of tax payer dollars and maintaining the public’s faith and trust is very important. Sadly, most residents believe that St. Clair County government is corrupt and self-serving. As a child I worked in my family’s small business and remember how we carefully watched every nickel being spent, and consistently measured whether it was in the business’ best interest. If serving as Recorder, I would use this philosophy, as it isn’t the “Recorder’s money”, it’s our tax dollars.
Do you plan to serve the full term of office?: Yes, I believe that when one makes a commitment to serve, one needs to fulfill that commitment. I will work diligently to ensure that the Recorder’s Office is fiscally conservative, provides excellent customer service, and gives back to the community.
Why should people vote for you?: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in education, have vast operations & legal experience and engaged in legal studies for two years, learning the nuts and bolts of contracts, legal ethics, real estate and other important areas.
I am the right person for this job, and will work hard each and every day to deliver the commonsense leadership, accountability and transparency that St. Clair County so desperately needs. I will work with county residents, be fiscally conservative, and provide excellent service. I will work with the Recorder’s Office staff and with the community to make the Recorder’s office affordable, accessible, and effective.
I know from education and experience how to operate a business, how to manage people and an office, how to prepare a balanced budget, and how to accomplish much with tightly controlled spending. I also understand the common real estate transaction needs of individuals and families, and the huge costs incurred in not fulfilling these needs. I will create processes in the Recorder’s Office to help families with these needs so that they can be more self-sufficient and keep more of their hard earned money in their pocket. These are qualities I will bring to our Recorder’s Office.