The race for Register of Deeds is not one that usually draws much attention or competition in Orange County, but Mark Chilton’s campaign promise to sign same-sex marriage licenses galvanized voters in the May primary. Still, Chilton, who is a real estate lawyer, stressed that marriage equality was only one facet of his campaign.
“It’s important to me, and I hope to the voters, to understand that same-sex marriage is how I am running, but it is not why I am running,” said Chilton.
He pledged to make the office’s website easier to use and to offer Spanish-language services.
Chilton won with 42.53 percent of the vote, narrowly beating out incumbent Deborah Brooks, who garnered 39.05 percent. Only 547 votes separated the two, but Chilton was able to break the 40 percent threshold to prevent a run-off. The third-place finisher, Sara Stephens, trailed with 18.42 percent.
During the campaign Chilton defended his controversial stance, saying that North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions is “clearly contrary” to the federal Constitution, especially in the context of recent Supreme Court and lower-court decisions.
But he acknowledged there is a chance he could face a misdemeanor charge or be removed from office.
“Yes, is it possible that a misdemeanor charge could be lodged against me, there’s an arguable case, I suppose, but I believe ultimately I’ll be found not guilty,” said Chilton
Chilton faces no Republican candidates in the general election, meaning he’ll likely take office in December.