Cosgrove leaving county position

Webster County Recorder Judy Cosgrove announced Thursday that she will not seek re-election in 2014 and will retire at the end of her term on Dec. 31.

Cosgrove, a Democrat, has been the recorder for 25 years. She has worked in that office since 1983.

Cosgrove started as a part-time clerk, when Cleo Swanson was recorder, she said. She went full time when a position opened, and she was appointed county recorder when Swanson retired in the middle of a term.

Cosgrove has seen many changes in the office during those years, particularly as records have become more electronic.

“When I first started, we hand-indexed everything,” Cosgrove said.

Indexes for every deed were filed in large books in the office, and deeds were photocopied and put on file.

“In 1994 we started computer indexing, and in 1998 we started scanning the images, the documents,” she said.

More and more refinancing meant there were just too many records to file on paper, she said.

“One of these holds 700 pages,” she said of one of the deed books. “In the refi years and stuff, we were filling one of these every seven to 10 days. So we had to go to scanning.”

Recordings can be submitted electronically now, she said.

“That’s completely different. I never thought I’d see that in my lifetime,” she said.

There is a statewide website for all land records.

The recorder’s office also handles birth, death and marriage records. Cosgrove said a new statewide death record system is being implemented.

She has been an active member of the Iowa State Recorders Association, serving on several boards and committees, and as president in 2006.

So far Sheri Burke is the only person who has filed to run for the position, according to the Webster County auditor’s office. Burke, a Republican, is the owner of Studio Fusion and has experience in mortgage underwriting.

Filings for the position are due at 5 p.m. March 26 in the auditor’s office. Applicants must have a minimum of 100 signatures. Application papers are available at the auditor’s office or on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Burke said she knew Cosgrove was retiring.

“I’ve been thinking about getting into some politics for a while, and I thought that would be a good fit for me, with my business and mortgage background,” Burke said.

Burke was a mortgage underwriter in Minneapolis, and was involved in real estate, she said.

“I worked for First Federal (in Fort Dodge) before they were bought out by Great Western and did the same thing,” she said. “I understand the recording process of the mortgages and deeds, and abstracting, and all that kind of thing.”

Cosgrove said she will miss the job and the friends she has made.