Former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton says his extensive research into local real estate and land history is what inspired him to run for Orange County Register of Deeds.

His name will be on the May 6 primary ballot along with two other candidates, Sara Stephens of Durham and Deborah B. Brooks of Hillsborough.
“I saw that there was a race shaping up between Sara Stephens and Deborah Brooks,” he told WCHL recently, “and so I decided that now’s the time to go ahead and pursue one of my goals in life, which is to be the Orange County register of Deeds.”

Chilton says it’s an idea he’s kicked around in his head “for at least five years.”

His research on local history and real estate records led to the creation of The Land Grant Atlas of Old Orange County, a planned four-volume series. Chilton has completed one volume so far.

He said he’d like to make sure that Orange County completes the process of putting all of its old land records up on the Web.

“Right now, they only go back to a certain point,” he said. “But the records go back much further, and I think we ought to go ahead and ‘image’ and index and get all the rest of those records online.”

He went on to say that the county needs to use less proprietary software when presenting those records online, so that users may have easier access to them across multiple platforms.

Over the last year, Chilton has been active in the progressive Moral Monday movement.

He was arrested, along with fellow members of Carrboro’s town government, during a protest at the North Carolina General Assembly last June.

As Register of Deeds, Chilton would have authority to issue marriage licenses. When asked by WCHL if he would defy the state’s current prohibitive stance on gay marriage, he didn’t answer outright.

Instead, Chilton spoke about where he sees the future of marriage equality as it’s being decided in federal courts.

“To my way of thinking, the number one responsibility of all elected officials in North Carolina is to uphold the federal Constitution, above and beyond all other purported laws or constitutions,” Chilton said.

In recent months, federal judges have struck down gay marriage bans in Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Utah.

WCHL will profile candidates in all local races in upcoming weeks.