ON THE ISSUES
The guiding Mission of Karen Yarbrough’s administrative work since 2012 was Accuracy, Efficiency and Advocacy, and when she was chosen by voters to lead the Cook County Clerk’s Office in 2018, she added “Cybersecurity” to this Mission Statement to reflect her deep commitment to protecting our nation’s vital election infrastructure.
ACCURACY: The Cook County Clerk’s Office is one of the largest repositories of private and public records in the world. Often people need copies to make very urgent and important transactions or arrangements happen, and Clerk Yarbrough prides herself on keeping those records in perpetuity for you and your descendants. This commitment to Accuracy extends from the Division of Land Records to the Clerk’s Tax Office, which does not tax itself but rather, insures that everyone pays their fair share, and not a penny more. As the Election Authority for Suburban Cook County, Clerk Yarbrough has successfully certified FIVE??? Elections to date, and is a national leader on how to conduct a large and complex election.
EFFICIENCY: As a lifelong small business owner, Karen Yarbrough approached her transition from lawmaker to public administrator with an eye towards cutting historic waste, fraud and abuses in Cook County Government. She took a workforce of almost 200 in 2012 and through careful fiscal management and retirements/attrition, turned it into a more efficient operation of 125 people, while at the same time expanding services in the Office. When the voters of Cook County chose to fold the County Recorder of Deeds Office into the County Clerk, Yarbrough was viewed as the logical choice to lead one of the largest government transitions in the country, and to do so without undoing her years of work to streamline various departments.
ADVOCACY: Though Clerk Yarbrough was able to approach the finances of the two county offices she has led with the frugal eye of a small business owner, she knew that there were some things that government must do that a business usually does not do, which includes public advocacy to change broken systems and raise awareness of institutionalized ripoffs and scams in the real estate industry.
CYBERSECURITY: Staying ahead of rapidly-evolving global threats was top priority for Yarbrough, holding high-level meetings on the topic with her Transition Team to ensure that our elections were protected on Day One. With five elections without a single cyber-breach, Yarbrough’s office is looked to as a model for governments around the USA on how to implement a level of security that even some nation-states lack. As cybercrime grows at a shocking pace, Yarbrough will increase her efforts to promote safe and encrypted means for residents of Illinois to protect and share their own data.
KAREN’S RECORD OF SUCCESS
In nearly ten years of county government, Clerk Yarbrough has taken on:
- “sovereign citizens” (who file endless reams of junk to impede government services)
- “deed reseller who inflate copy fees for public records
- lawyers who make careers frivolously suing governments
- property fraudsters and Illegal home squatters
- Election Deniers and conspiracy-theorists
While making sure to defend the taxpayers of Cook County, Yarbrough has also worked to pass new laws that support:
- Victims of property fraud (created a Property Fraud Review and Refer Program to invalidate clearly fraudulent filings against your property)
- LGBTQ+ couples who were married at a time when they were forced to choose gender-identifying language that does not reflect their true selves. Yarbrough’s work will allow married couples to change their gender-identifying language on their marriage certificate to assist in attaining spousal rights.
- Persons trying to sell their home but facing issues due to expired Mechanics Liens against their property
- Technology startups that wish to use blockchain technology in Illinois
As Recorder of Deeds and Cook County Clerk, Yarbrough has been recognized as an international leader in improving government services. She launched the following programs:
- successful implementation of electronic recordation of property deeds
- Statewide pilot county to lead transition from state EzDec to MyDec and paperless submission
- “Property After Death”, one of Cook County’s most popular informational seminars on cost-effective options to transfer property to heirs
- First county in Illinois to offer digital certified PDF records
- First County Official in USA to endorse blockchain technology
- Internationally-recognized Blockchain Pilot Program, with paper published in 2017
- Co-founder of IL Blockchain Initiative and IL General Assembly Blockchain Task Force
- Marriage application via web conference as a response to pandemic
- In-person Legal HelpDesk to assist where government employees may not
- Award-winning Voting Opportunity and Translation Equity ballot-language expansion
- Opened In-Person Veterans Service Office and signed up tens of thousands of veterans and hundreds of county businesses for the County’s Military and Veterans Discount Card