District and state elections are fast approaching, which means you, the voter, will soon be making your decisions on candidates for government offices like Senate and House of Representatives. But some of the other offices you’ll encounter on the ballot may be less familiar, and here the decision-making can get tricky. Whether this is a brush-up on your knowledge or brand-new information, two positions in particular that few voters have more than a vague understanding of are the Register of Deeds and the Governor’s Council.
The Register of Deeds is responsible for the maintaining of public records and documents, the vast majority of which pertain to real estate and the legal rights of parties involved. The Register is also responsible for making these records readily available to attorneys, conveyancers, surveyors, municipal staff and members of the general public. The Registry of Deeds for Hampshire County has entirely digitized records. These records go all the way back to 1653 and can actually be useful for a second interest – “Most members of the general public do not realize that this facility has many resources for genealogy research,” says Patricia Plaza, Register of Deeds for Hampshire County. All records are available at masslandrecords.com.
The Governor’s Council, also known as the Executive Council, is exactly as it sounds: the group, composed of eight officials elected by district and the Lieutenant Governor, that gives the governor of Massachusetts advice and consent on certain legal matters.These most notably include the nomination of judicial officers and public administrators, the appointment and removal of justices of the peace and notaries public, and the issuing of pardons and commutations. The Council meets weekly and its members are elected every two years. Members of the public are welcome to attend hearings. The current Councillor for District 8, which includes Hampshire County, is Thomas T. Merrigan.