By Barney Blakeney
Tom Hartnett Jr. wants to be Charleston County’s next Register of Deeds. He’s seeking election to the office in the November 6 general election.
Hartnett’s name is one familiar to many local residents, his father Thomas ‘Tommy’ Hartnett Sr., represented Charleston County in various elected offices from 1965 when he was elected to the S.C. State Legislature, until 1987 when he resigned as S.C. 1st District Congressman. Hartnett Junior said having grown up in a political family he has little taste for the limelight or political life. though he values the relationships that were built while his father served.
Hartnett’s worked in his family’s real estate business as an appraiser for most of his adult life. For 10 years he worked with the International Longshoremen’s Association, the S.C. State Port Authority and shipping lines as a stevedore coordinating labor and equipment. He returned to the real estate business 20 years ago. Hartnett says it’s his experience in real estate that motivates him to seek election as the county’s register of deeds.
As a real estate appraiser, Hartnett said he uses the services of the register of deeds office almost daily. He’s found that the office meets most of his needs, but there’s room for improvement. That’s what he hopes to do if elected – make some improvements. In today’s world of technical wonder, most of what he and other users need from the register of deeds office can be found online, but there are some limitations. Hartnett thinks some of those limitations can be eliminated.
Applauding the staff, Hartnett said the office functions well, but leadership is essential to its efficiency and effectiveness. “I don’t know the office inside out, but I do know it from the outside in,” he says, “That’s the perspective I can bring to the table.”
Despite his praise for the work the ROD office staff performs – especially since 24-year Register of Deeds veteran Charlie Lybrand retired last year – Hartnett says, “As with anything you do daily, people can become complacent and may not see things as an outsider might. I want to use my experience to help them stay on top of things and to insure that the office is running properly to meet the needs of the people it serves. When the ROD seat came open I thought the successor probably should be somebody who knows the office and can address some of its problems, so I decided to throw my name in the hat.”
Hartnett notes the decision wasn’t made thoughtlessly. He’s surrounded himself with a group of advisers who also know and use the register of deeds office regularly. Together they’ve developed some ideas to improve its function. More efficient use of technology to enhance electronic access to services and expanding the data base, especially the county’s older deeds records, are among them.
As the owner of a successful business in real estate, Hartnett says he brings to the table the skills, perspective and experience needed in the county’s next register of deeds.