By Barney Blakeney
Patrick Bell thinks his candidacy for election as Charleston County Register of Deeds is an opportunity to take one of the county’s most important public offices into a new era. In Charleston County where real estate is a significant factor in the economy, the Register of Deeds office plays a pivotal role. Bell thinks he’s uniquely qualified to lead that office. He wants voters to consider that when they go to the polls for the June 12 primary elections.
“If the election was a job interview, I’d be hired because I’m the best candidate for the job. My resume and experience surpasses those of all the other candidates,” said Bell, a commercial real estate broker and investor for some 25 years. His qualifications to head the Register of Deeds Office sets him apart from the other candidates vying for the position.
In, 2014 Bell was appointed to the Charleston County Planning Commission, where he chairs the Short-Term Rental Committee and serves on the Affordable Housing Committee. He is former chairperson (2017) of Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Legislative Committee and a current committee member at the local and state level. He serves on the South Carolina Association of Realtors Legislative Committee, chairs its Affordable Housing Taskforce, and serves on the Charleston Chamber of Commerce Affordable Housing Taskforce. In April, 2018 Bell was awarded the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation by the CCIM Institute. The CCIM Institute is Commercial Real Estate’s Global Standard for Professional Achievement.
And Bell has been active in the Democratic Party. He’s served on numerous committees, including the South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Committee, Charleston County Democratic Party Executive Committee and as a Party Delegate.
Civic and professional service is part of Bell’s DNA. That make-up includes a desire to see things improve. Like many of his colleagues, Bell’s work takes him to the Register of Deeds Office frequently. Some years ago he said he noticed a difficulty in finding deeds. In some cases they either were not there or were improperly filed.
The office staff is helpful and qualified, but ultimately it comes down to leadership, Bell says. He challenged that 23-year entrenched leadership in 2014 when he ran for the office losing by less than 1,000 votes. The retirement of the previous Register of Deeds presents an opportunity to elect someone who knows what the office needs and how to meet them, he believes.
Bell’s father served at Charleston Air Force Base (now called Joint Base Charleston), his mother graduated from North Charleston High School, and his uncle died in Hurricane Hugo while attempting to move his shrimp boat to safety. He knows the region. He knows the 248-year history of property recording is only a fraction complete, so he’s assembled an advisory team that from the first day on the job will help him address some needs of the office. He’s identified two primary areas of concern – access to records and efficiency and accuracy in recording the data. The primary point of his candidacy is to improve the efficiency of the office and to remove barriers to the public. His election is an opportunity to elect a person who can get those things right.
From Bell’s efforts, he has garnered endorsements from multiple elected officials like Senator Marlon Kimpson and Representatives Marvin Pendarvis and David Mack.
Bell says the Register of Deeds Office is a complicated courthouse seat. One most people are unconcerned about until they need it. As heirs property increasingly becomes more a focal point in the county’s land use decisions, recordkeeping likewise will become more a focal point. Bell says he’s a perfect fit for that job.