The Boyertown Area Times
Ex-recorder of deeds seeks return to office
Fred Sheeler, who served for 12 years, running for Democratic nomination
Fred Sheeler wants his old job back.
The Bern Township Democrat enjoyed his time as Berks County recorder of deeds, serving in the position from 2008 to 2020. It was an assignment that he truly loved and one where he was proud of the successes he accomplished.
But in the 2019 general election he suffered a heartbreaking loss in his bid for a fourth term to Republican newcomer Mary Kozak.
Now, after four years away, he wants back in.
Sheeler has announced he will once again be seeking the Democratic nomination for the post.
“I love this job and missed it so much while I was away,” he said. “It was a shock when
I lost because there were no complaints about how the office was being run during all that time. People were happy with us.”
Under his leadership, Sheeler said, the office underwent a huge transformation.
Sheeler said his biggest accomplishments were streamlining the process for recording new information and moving existing information to an automated computer system.
Those changes, he said, improved efficiency by making it easier for residents to search for deeds from as far back as 1752 from the comfort of their own home, cut costs by about $2 million and reduced his staff by more than 50%.
He also instituted a veterans ID card program, a set of procedures to prevent fraudulent recording and a system to alert property owners of all county properties containing toxic waste.
But, he said, convincing others that the office had improved was his proudest accomplishment.
Sheeler said the office earned a reputation for being friendly and effective — two qualities that may not exactly be hallmarks of local government. But those are the qualities he wanted to instill most during his tenure.
Unfortunately, Sheeler said, he has witnessed a disappointing decline in the management of the office, the accessibility of records and level of customer service under the current administration.
“The taxpayers of Berks deserve better,” Sheeler said. “The recorder of deeds is more than just recording a deed. The recorder is responsible for a multimillion-dollar county government office and requires good management experience.”
The responsibilities of the recorder of deeds include documenting all deeds, mortgages and real estate transactions; reporting all real estate related liens; recording all subdivision, land development plans and highway maps; maintaining historical documents like charters; and collecting local and state real estate transfer taxes.
“I have proven I am knowledgeable in all aspects of the office and can do the job well,” Sheeler said, adding that experience and integrity matter.
Sheeler is the first Democrat to announce he is running for the position. Kozak is facing a challenge in the Republican primary from Richmond Township mortgage originator J. Scott DeFrees.
The recorder of deeds serves a four-year term and receives an annual salary of $96,043.