County Recorder Cheryl Dawson-Spaulding seen here at the Greene County Republican watch party at the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield on November 8, 2022. (Photo by Bruce Stidham)

Republicans pulled off a clean sweep of local offices in Greene County, taking seven of seven elections, but only one was contested.

Greene County Recorder of Deeds (with 61 of 78 precincts reporting)VotesPct.
Cheryl Dawson-Spaulding (Republican) (incumbent)60,17162.96
Melissa Miller (Democrat)35,25736.89

Record of Deeds Cheryl Dawson-Spaulding headed off a challenge from Democrat Melissa Miller with 77 of 77 precincts reporting. Dawson-Spaulding had 62.96 percent of the votes, and a 24,914-vote advantage.

Dawson-Spaulding says many Greene County residents probably don’t understand the recorder’s job duties.

“It’s one of the least known offices; unless they need us, they don’t really know what we do. Sometimes they miss the significance of who’s really doing the job,” Dawson-Spaulding said. “It really does matter who you have in this position taking care of these documents and protecting the integrity.”

Dawson-Spaulding and her staff just started the process of creating digital records of some of Greene County’s oldest deeds, records that date back as far as Greene County’s organization 189 years ago.

County Recorder Cheryl Dawson-Spaulding at the Greene County Republican watch party at the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield on November 8, 2022. (Photo by Bruce Stidham)

“I just undertook a project where most of our historic records are digitized, but we had about 900 books that were not, and so I have just started a project to get those 900 books digitized,” Dawson-Spaulding said.

That will entail taking physical copies of deed books or microfilm and turning the documents into digital image and document files. The process will take about two years, Dawson-Spaulding said.

“In our slow time, we’re back indexing, and so we’re creating indexes for all of those images that we have,” Dawson-Spaulding said. “Eventually, it’s going to be a long process, but you’ll be able to search back to 1833 the same way that you would search a document that was taken in today.”

Some of the work involves redacting social security numbers that appear on the old documents, which remain public records. Dawson-Spaulding said her staff is redacting social security numbers from more than 1 million documents to reduce the likelihood of the digital documents being used by identity thieves.

Dawson-Spaulding was the office manager and chief deputy recorder of deeds for 12 years prior to election of her first term.

“I’ve actually got a long history with the office. I started when I was still in college doing data entry, so I actually started working for the office in 1992 and worked for two previous recorders,” Dawson-Spaulding said.

Linda Montgomery served four terms, starting with her election in 1995 and ending with her retirement at the end 2010. That retirement led to Dawson-Spaulding running for election to the top spot in the office.

Dawson-Spaulding also discussed customer service, and expressed hope for people who come to the recorder’s office, “that it was a good experience, that we’re helpful and if we can’t answer their question, we try and get them to where they need to be. I’ve got great people, we’ve got good staff, they’re very helpful.”

By Missouri law, a recorder of deeds:

  • Records and maintains all records related to real property
  • Files and maintains military discharge records
  • Files and maintains federal tax liens and state tax liens
  • Issues marriage licenses and maintains marriage license records

The Office of the Greene County Recorder of Deeds employs nine people, and the recorder makes an approximate salary and benefit package of $86,000 per year. Employee salary and benefit packages range from about $29,500 up to $66,340, according to Greene County’s 2022 operating budget documentation.

Unopposed officials elected Tuesday

The following county officials were elected unopposed Tuesday:

  • Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon was elected in 2018. He is going for a second term
  • Cindy Stein has been the Greene County auditor since her first election in 1994 
  • Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson was first elected to be Greene County’s lead criminal prosecutor in 2010, and is seeking a fourth term in office
  • Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller was elected in 2014, and seeks a third term in office
  • Collector of Revenue Allen Icet starts his first full term in January, having been elected to office in Greene County for the first time. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson appointed Icet March 1, 2021
  • Circuit Court Clerk candidate Bryan Feemster is the only non-incumbent of the six unopposed Republicans. Feemster worked for Springfield City Utilities from 1976-2020. He was the director of the John Twitty Energy Center coal-fired power plant from 2006-2013. He then became City Utilities’ director of electrical supply for four years, and finished out his career as CU’s director of strategic operations.

County Associate Circuit Judges retained

Voters were asked to approve retention votes for several judges. All were evaluated this year by the Missouri Judicial Performance Review Committee on whether they “substantially meet overall judicial performance standards,” and all of them did. In Greene County, voters approved retention of three Associate Circuit Court judges:

  • Judge Mark Powell, appointed in 2000 and elected to office by voters in 2000, 2002 and 2006; then retained 2010, 2014 and 2018
  • Judge Margaret Holden Palmietto, appointed in 2015, retained in 2018
  • Judge Todd Myers, appointed in 2020 and facing his first retention vote

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger