John A Keith, a Boston realtor and real estate blogger, is running for Suffolk County Register of Deeds. The registry oversees and records the real estate transactions in the county, which is now only Boston, Winthrop, Revere and Chelsea.
“The reason I’m running is because I think I’d be good at the job and I think I’d enjoy the job,” he said. “I have the background and experience for this job.”
Keith said he started considering running when Jim Aloisi, the former state secretary of transportation and frequent contributor to Commonwealth Magazine, suggested he do so on Twitter. His only perevious election campaign was in 2009, when he ran against Democrat Aaron Michlewitz in a special election to succeed Sal DiMasi in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Now he’s running to succeed Francis Roache, who resigned in January, as head of the office. Keith said that the Registry has an annual budget of $1.8 million and annual revenue of $73 million. As register he would be in charge of a staff of 30.
“I don’t like the idea of someone getting this job who doesn’t want it,” Keith said.
He said that right now the Registry does between 70 and 80 percent of what it needs to do and he wants to focus on that 20 to 30 percent of stuff.
“One of my goals is to have everything [online] from 1970 so that by the time we get to 2020 we’ll have 50 years because title examiners need 50 years,” he said.
More generally, Keith wants to bring the registry up to speed with the digital era. He wants to get its data online, wehich would enable the public to track real estate transactions, foreclosures and trends. He pointed to all the things that have been done since public transit agencies started making their data public.
He said that two-thirds of people will buy or sell property at least once in their lives.
“For them it has to work when it has to work,” he said. “It infuriates me when they make mistakes at the Registry.”
Keith cautioned that realistic expectations are needed. He acknowledged that integrating the Registry with the City of Boston’s geographic information system would be a big goal and that getting the records from the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony digitized would be better done by specialists.
“You have to have some perspective and realistic expectations,” he said.
Running as an independent, or unenrolled, Keith said one of his concerns was people not giving him a chance because he won’t have a “D” next to his name on the ballot. But he did say it reduced his paperwork — he doesn’t have to run in the Democratic primary in September with seven other candidates (former Boston city councilor Stephen Murphy, Douglas Bennett, Stephanie Everett, Katherine Forde, Michael MacKan, Paul Nutting and Jeffrey Ross).
Other unenrolled candidaters include Joseph Donnelly and Margherita Ciampa-Coyne. The election will be on November 8.