Local Politics
7:01 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Cabarrus Co. Register Of Deeds Controversy Appears Near Resolution

After more than a month of controversy, Cabarrus County will finally have a new Register of Deeds. The county's Republican Party announced a new nominee for Register of Deeds on Friday. 

Ben Small was elected Register of Deeds but has been unable to hold the position because he has not been able to obtain a $50,000 bond required by state law to hold the position.
Ben Small was elected Register of Deeds but has been unable to hold the position because he has not been able to obtain a $50,000 bond required by state law to hold the position.
Credit Courtesy of Independent Tribune

The Register of Deeds keeps the records of births, deaths, marriages -- all kinds of important public records. The man who was elected to that office in Cabarrus County, Ben Small, had a shortcoming.

The State Bar suspended Ben Small's law license for misconduct in July and effective for two years. Small has since appealed the suspension. While this didn't stop him from getting elected in November, it did stop him from getting the required insurance state law requires in order to do his job.  

North Carolina requires Register of Deeds to have a bond of $50,000, which the Board of County commissioners must approve in order to hold the office as insurance while the official is in office. And this happens after the person has been elected. 

Penn National, the county's bonding agency, refused to give him a bond. And other companies including Liberty Mutual and State Farm were willing to offer one, but commissioners remained skeptical. That's because they can be held personally responsible for mistakes made by a Register of Deeds. The position has been left vacant since December 3, when Small was supposed to take office. 

So the Board of commissioners asked the Cabarrus County Republicans to nominate another candidate. At first, the party wanted to give Small another chance. But commissioners said that wouldn't work. So the party chose Wayne Nixon. He's a lawyer in Concord and has had a law license since 1977. John Lewis is the chairman of the Cabarrus County Republican Party Executive Committee. 

"We just voted last night for Wayne to become the nominee and he was the most qualified individual and the choice of the party for filling that vacancy," Lewis says.   

Nixon was selected from a pool of eight other candidates. Nixon already filled out his bond application and is expected to be appointed next week by Cabarrus County's Board of Commissioners.