Thursday, September 06, 2012 12:06 AM
GOP candidate withdraws
Democrat Stith alone on ballot for Register of Deeds
By Janet Conner-Knox | Times Staff Writer
Democrat candidate for Register of Deeds, Lisa Stith, won’t have to campaign as hard as she had planned for the seat of Wilson County Register of Deeds from now until November.
On Wednesday afternoon, Stith’s opponent, Republican Alex Lewis, withdrew from the race, giving the staff at the Wilson County Board of Elections a written statement.
Lewis exiting the race means Stith will be running unopposed.
Lewis, 25, said it wasn’t an easy decision for him to make.
"I don’t want to be seen as a quitter by any means by pulling out,” Lewis said Wednesday afternoon after officially taking his hat out of the ring. "Public service and serving Wilson County has always been something I have dreamed of doing.”
But Lewis said he has another path he must follow at this time. Lewis has accepted a job with Freedom Industries, a local company.
"It’s like God laid this path in front of me and it all fell into place,” Lewis said. "It’s something I spent a lot of time on my knees praying about and deciding.”
Lewis said he will still be active in the Wilson County Republican Party, and will be living in Wilson County.
Lewis said he also has recently become engaged to be married, so his focus is his new job and his upcoming nuptials. He said he can’t speculate if he will actually ever run for office again.
The news was a big relief for Stith.
Stith said she was asked to meet with Lewis Tuesday and he told her of his job offer and that he intended to take the job.
"He told me of his job offer and said it was an offer he could not pass up,” Stith said. "I told him it was a great opportunity for him as well as for myself. I was just very pleased.”
Stith said she knows Lewis has a bright future in whatever he decides to do.
"I’m glad he entered the race, although he and I are from different political parties and from different generations and different stages in our careers. I believe he ran for the right reason,” Stith said from a written statement. "It’s great to have young men and young women to show an interest in government, and to see things they want to see changed.”
The competition in the race allowed more people to find out and know more about the Register of Deeds office and its functions because they wouldn’t have noticed it before, Stith said.
Both Stith and Lewis said they both share the same goals for the Register of Deeds office, and that is to make the office more efficient and have increased uses in technology.
Wilson County Republican Chair, Gary Proffitt, said there won’t be a Republican candidate to replace Lewis in this race.
"We’ve decided at this late point during the election year, with a little over 30 days before early voting we will not have a Republican in the race for Register of Deeds,” Proffitt said. "We are confident that the office will be left in good hands and Lisa is the right person for the job.”
Renee Morris, director of Wilson County Board of Elections, said since the ballots have not been printed, Stith’s name will be alone on the ballot for Register of Deeds.
Stith said she still intends on campaigning, just not as hard.
"I’ll still campaign,” Stith declared. "I won’t have to go out there and work quite as hard. I still want to meet people. I want people to put their signs out. I still want it to be talked about because any publicity to this office is a good thing.”
Stith said she still will answer questions but now she can spend time focusing on the office and goals she has.
"I want the girls in the office to be cross-trained,” Stith explained. "I want when someone comes in that door, I want them to be waited on by whoever is in that window and not to have to wait for someone else.”
Expanded office hours is something else she would like to accomodate.
"Maybe we could open 30 minutes earlier or stay open later in the afternoon so that people who work the hours we work can come in and get what they need without taking off from work,” Stith said.
Stith said she would also like to have more online real estate records available. Right now, she said, records go back as far as 1979, but she would like them to go back earlier.
"I just want to do what I have a passion to do and that’s continue to do what I’ve done for the past 30 years, and that is helping the public,” Stith said.
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