From Staff Reports
NASHVILLE, TN — With 35 years of experience as a real estate appraiser, Richard Exton is campaigning for the Democratic nomination to run for Davidson County Register of Deeds.
That experience “makes me a great candidate for the register’s office,” Exton says, explaining he’s “a consumer of the Register of Deeds office … so I’m going to approach it from a consumer stand point.”
Exton’s “passion for public service” started early, he said. “At 9-10, my sister and I held a neighborhood carnival to raise money for the Red Cross. It was more midway games than circus acts.”
More recently, his service includes leadership for the Davidson County Democratic Party, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Nashville, and volunteering with various service groups.
Exton is a Democrat because “The Democratic Party is the one that puts people first,” he said.
He’s the only man to serve on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Political Collaborative of Tennessee, and considers himself a feminist. “I’ve supported women’s issues. It was a very interesting experience being a guy on a board with 15 women; interesting … on the other side of the fence.”
A similar experience was when his wife, Maralie, taught clinical lab techs in a town near Nairobi for a week. “I got to explore the area on foot while she taught. It was quite an experience,” Exton said. “You learn to appreciate the challenges people face” as a minority.
Exton wants the Register of Deeds Office “to have the best consumer service of any metro department” and, if nominated May 1 and elected Aug. 2, his first step toward enhanced customer service would be to start posting deeds online, he said. Much of the information is available on websites by the property assessor and planning commission, but Exton said he’d “create a website so people can go to the most logical place.”
He wants to make deeds “available on-line from the register’s site” because, while “real estate professionals and attorneys are aware they can get [the information] at other locations … I see it as an additional service so people don’t have to go downtown, get parking and come into the building.”
Exton anticipates computerized document formatting for information sharing to adjust for security like cryptocurrencies (bitcoins) share ledgers, so illegally changing a record on one computer is revealed when contrasted with the same data on many other computers. “The register of deeds in Chicago is looking at blockchain security,” Exton said, noting national standards are needed and change is years away.
Computerized medical records are secure, but for public records, he said, transparency is needed at registers’ offices.
Deeds are complicated. “There will still be people who need assistance,” Exton said, noting deeds refer to a grantor and grantee instead of a seller and buyer. Furthermore, a great many deeds may never be on-line because they’re old, some hand drawn, and not conducive to being scanned.
Exton joined the real estate appraisal firm William R. Manier III and Associates in 1983, acquired it in 1994, and renamed it Manier and Exton. It provides real estate appraisal work on a fee basis.
In 1963, when he was four, his family moved to Nashville. He’s a 1976 graduate of Hillsboro High who earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He and Maralie married in 1986 and live with their dog, Pup. Their son, Richard Jr., is a Nashville-based entrepreneur.