Pat Cothran for Buncombe County Register of Deeds


I chose to run for Buncombe County Register of Deeds because I saw a real need for experienced, proven leadership in this elective office. For me, the position of register of deeds is not just a job, nor a springboard to further my political ambitions. It is a solemn obligation to an office where I can contribute my talents to my mountain county’s success.


The founders of our nation recognized the high value of individual property rights and sought to protect them with the 4th and 5th Amendments to our Constitution.  The register of deeds office protects your property rights at the local level. The official who presides over that office holds a VERY IMPORTANT job in our county.


The person you choose in November will oversee the accurate recording of all land transactions in the county, the maintenance and protection of current and past transactions, and the retrieval of this vital information. The office also maintains other records such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and military discharge documents.


You might ask why these duties are important to you. If the office fails in the accurate filing and preserving of these records, then the transfer of land and homes becomes a financial nightmare for buyers and sellers. And imagine the outcome of problems involving birth, death, marriage, and military records that would harm proof of ownership or inheritance to your children. Mistakes in the register of deeds office can cost you time, money, and loss of property rights. Throughout 26 years in the real estate title insurance business insuring the titles (deeds) and mortgages to your homes and businesses, I have worked daily with the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office and the documents recorded there, and I clearly understand the significant financial impact of that office on our county’s citizens. The greatest portion of my life’s work has taught me the intricacies of the register’s office, the legal environment in which the office operates, and the protection of our property rights through vigilance.


These days, the register of deeds position poses new challenges, such as dealing with even minor technical changes in handling digital information management of the recording and storing of our important documents. With the country and the local area still reeling from a wave of foreclosures, and complex transactions complicating matters of ownership, the register of deeds must deal effectively with issues their predecessors could hardly have imagined.


One such issue is the matter of how to handle flawed or fraudulent documents submitted, often electronically, by nefarious lenders. A common form of fraud is the “robo-signing” of documents, whereby the signers accepted money to put phony signatures on the paperwork for mortgages and foreclosures. Those documents are recorded in registers’ offices across the nation, including here in Buncombe County.


Our county’s register of deeds directs a multi-million dollar budget and oversees 16 employees. That office is a business that requires administration by an experienced business professional. My experience in the private business sector honed my leadership skills. I developed clear focus on achievement, team building for accomplishment, and understanding of the needs of people; all within financial goals. In addition to being a successful small business title agency owner and local jobs creator for the past 11 years, I earned a number of national performance awards related to revenue, expense, productivity, and profit goals during my years with Fortune 500 companies in the title insurance business. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in real estate, a Master of business administration degree and a Master of entrepreneurship degree, and am a certified real estate educator and licensed broker. This education and experience has well prepared me to provide professional managerial expertise to the register of deeds office.


I am a seventh-generation Buncombe County native who grew up in Leicester where my ancestors settled in the 1800s. As a genealogist and historian, I care about the preservation and security of the historical records of this county. Those records are the equivalent of our county’s family tree, and they document the events that have occurred in the lives of the people of Buncombe County for generations. I have served on boards of associations and been involved with organizations that directly benefit our people and our area. Buncombe County has always been my home; my roots are here and my heart is here. As a native, I have knowledge of the history of the land and of the people whose most important documents are maintained in the register of deeds office. Being local gives me a perspective that cannot be matched by a recent resident from out of state.


Traditionally, register of deeds elections tend to be “endorsement races” — contests where political backing and connections count more than qualifications for office. With the important duties that office performs for you, true qualifications matter more than political affiliation.

Please visit, view the Candidate Comparison and the Issues tab, and learn more.

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker