Recorder’s race involves county clerk, political newcomer


The two candidates vying for the job of recording land records for the state’s fourth-largest county believe they have the experience to do that job well.

Democrat Cliff Sommers of Brownstown is a political newcomer, while Republican Amanda Cunningham Lowery of Vallonia has nearly two terms under her belt as county clerk.

Cunningham Lowery, who also is the chairwoman of the Jackson County Republican Party, is limited to two terms as county clerk by the state constitution. The same is true for the present county recorder, Republican Linda Auleman, who is wrapping up her second term at year’s end. She earned $41,652.52 in 2017.

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Although Sommers has never held a county office, he’s not unfamiliar with the work of the county recorder, who also is responsible for recording other miscellaneous records.

“I have worked in the recorder’s office since 2013, gaining experience and forging relationships with those who regularly work with us in the recorder’s office,” he said. “I understand the quickest way to serve our taxpayers.”

Cunningham Lowery said as county clerk, she has been tasked with the management and preservation of all court records for the county’s three courts.

“I understand the importance of maintaining complete and accurate records, protecting confidentiality and working within a budget to accomplish this,” she said. “Providing accurate and efficient recording of documents and excellent customer service will be my highest priorities as your next Jackson County recorder.”

Cunningham Lowery said she has truly enjoyed serving Jackson County in her time as clerk.

“I am proud of what has been accomplished in the clerk’s office during that time,” she said. “I am excited to take my vision and work ethic and my experience working in county government to the recorder’s office.”

Sommers said a big part of the recorder’s job is diving through the history of the county.

“Our local history has always interested me and has been a hobby of mine, and my time as the Jackson County bicentennial chairman just added to that interest,” he said. “The recorder’s office is just a natural fit for me, allowing me to help our citizens find a little piece of their own history.”

Sommers said he takes pride in greeting everyone with a smile and helping them with all of the tools at his disposal to quickly and correctly help them navigate the bureaucracy.

Cunningham Lowery said she loves the challenge of new opportunities and is excited to see what her new perspective will bring to the recorder’s office.

“As recorder, I will implement a system of checks and balances to assure that all documents are recorded accurately and efficiently,” she said. “I will continue to utilize technology to improve and increase public accessibility to records while ensuring that confidential information is kept safe and secure.”

Cunningham Lowery said she also will increase awareness of the Property Fraud Alert program, a system that will automatically alert subscribers by mail or text message when the name they have submitted is used in any recording activities within the Jackson County Recorder’s Office.

Sommers said if elected, he plans to further modernize the recorder’s office.

“First, I will further promote Property Fraud Alert to protect our property owners from scams, and this is a free program that our software company offers,” he said. “Next, I will take steps to protect our records from thieves and hackers by moving our server to two different off-site locations.”

That would be done with no extra charge to the taxpayers because Sommers said he will be able to use revenue that the recorder’s office already receives.

“Another priority I have is giving more online access to our records so that title companies and law offices have easier access so that they can better serve you,” he said.

Cunningham Lowery said the recorder’s perpetuation fund, much like the clerk’s perpetuation fund, is designed to support the maintenance and preservation of records.

“I will utilize it to its full potential to make any improvements and avoid any additional burden to the taxpayers of Jackson County,” she said. “I will rely on the strong working relationships I have with other county offices to find ways to create efficiencies for those we serve.”

As clerk, Cunningham Lowery said she has served as secretary of the Local Commission on Public Records, a role she would like to see transferred to the recorder’s office. State law allows such a move, she said.

Sommers said he had hit a hard patch in life when Auleman took a chance on him five years ago.

“I was getting over an injury that kept me down for a few years,” he said. “I started volunteering at Brownstown elementary and middle schools, tutoring people in the evening and started becoming active in the bicentennial committee. She(Auleman) saw something in me, and I did not want to disappoint. I worked hard and went from a part-time position and finally to first deputy.”

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Name: Amanda Cunningham Lowery

Age: 42

Residence: Vallonia

Party: Republican

Education: Immanuel Lutheran School Class of 1990; Seymour High School Class of 1994; Indiana University 1994 to 1996; C4 dental assistant program Class of 1999; Indiana University School of Dentistry-Expanded Restorative Procedures for Dental Auxiliaries Class of 2001

Occupation: Elected Jackson County clerk in 2010

Family: Husband, Chuck; daughter, Jenna; and son, Trent; parents, Gary and Marsha Cunningham; siblings Chris, Sara and Seth Cunningham.

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Name: Cliff Sommers

Age: 35

Residence: Brownstown

Party: Democrat

Education: Brownstown Central High School, Purdue University and Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus

Occupation: First deputy to the current Jackson County recorder

Family: Parents, John and Chris Sommers; sister, Anna Hochstedler; and grandmothers, Lois Sommers and Catherine Sterling


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