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Cumberland Register of Deeds Lee Warren to retire at end of 2024

Senior Assistant Register of Deeds Andra Brewington to replace Warren with no opposition in 2024 election


One week ago today, the fourth of four political shockwaves struck Cumberland County when the 2024 election filing period ended Dec. 15 and long-time Register of Deeds Lee Warren’s name was not on the list of candidates.

Warren is retiring when his term ends following the 2024 election. Barring any unforeseen circumstance, Warren will be replaced by Senior Assistant Register of Deeds Andra Brewington, Warren’s second-in-command for the past five years. Brewington was the only person to file for the seat.

Warren and Brewington are Democrats.

The Register of Deeds office maintains property deeds, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses and other records at the County Courthouse. Military personnel can also file their discharge papers there so certified copies will be conveniently available for themselves and their families. Otherwise, they have to request the records from a federal repository in St. Louis, Brewington said.

Documents housed at the Register of Deeds office date back to 1754.

Time to be with family after decades of sacrifice

When the candidate filing period started in early December, Warren had not decided whether he would run again.

Then he and his wife were diagnosed with Covid-19.

“And during that time it kind of hit me, you know?” Warren said. “This is probably another good reason to maybe go ahead and retire. Because I want to be there for my family.”

At 71, he said, he has 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His wife and family have made sacrifices for his service as an elected official.

“I’ve missed a lot of ball games. I’ve missed a lot of school plays. I’ve missed a lot of those kinds of things,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss many more of those. And particularly when you’re looking at five years out,” when the next term ends in 2028.

At the same time, Warren, who has been the register of deeds since 2003, wants to support his staff through the transition in leadership, he said.

“I love this job. I love the people that I work with,” he said. “We have a very talented staff and a very talented senior staff. This isn’t just a one-man show down here. It’s a team effort.”

By the end of 2024, Warren will have had 32 years in elected office. He was a Cumberland County commissioner from 1992 to 2003. In May 2003, he resigned his commissioner seat when he was appointed to be the register of deeds. The previous register of deeds, George Tatum, had resigned mid-term to become the commissioner of the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

Warren is the fourth of four major figures in Cumberland County politics this month to announce their retirements when their terms end next year. The others are state Rep. Marvin Lucas of Spring Lake, Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe and Cumberland County Commissioner Michael Boose.

While multiple people have lined up to replace the commissioners and Lucas, Brewington is unopposed.

Brewington said she filed late in the morning of Dec. 15 before the books closed at noon.

Was there a plan to pass the torch without opposition?

Did Warren and Brewington keep his retirement plans secret to discourage other candidates from running and clear the way for her to run unopposed? Both say they didn’t.

Brewington said Warren didn’t specifically tell Brewington he was going to step down. “He just asked me if I would consider” running for the seat.

“It was kind of last-minute that, ‘Yes, I’ll go ahead and do this,’” she said. “But, you know, I wouldn’t say that it was on the ‘down low’ for that, because filing started Dec. 4 to Dec. 15. Anybody could have ran.”

Brewington noticed on the last night before the filing deadline that no one had filed for register of deeds, she said. She talked to Warren that night, she said, “And I said, ‘OK, I guess I’ll go file.’”

The next morning, Warren met her around 11:15 a.m. at the county Board of Elections office — 45 minutes before the deadline — and she filed her candidacy paperwork, Brewington said.

“And that was it. And nobody had been in [to file for the seat],” she said. “My God, this is really strange, nobody comes in, nobody files. I couldn’t understand that.

“But I do know the last four or five times that he filed, nobody ran against him. And that might be the reason why [no one else filed]”, she said. “I don’t know. But everybody had every opportunity.”

27-year veteran of the office

Brewington, 66, remembers the date she was hired, May 4, 1996, the day after her birthday.

She didn’t expect to still be working there 27 years later, she said, but she found the job interesting, she learned a lot, and worked her way up until she became the senior assistant register.

Brewington was born and raised in Fayetteville, the daughter of a soldier who was killed in the Vietnam War when she was 10, she said. She is a graduate of Terry Sanford High School and has a business administration degree from Fayetteville State University.

The office is running well, Brewington said, and she looks forward to keeping it going. Though  could have retired after 25 years, she said, “I feel good.”

“Why sit at home? Just get up and go on to work until the Lord tells me to retire,” she said. “And I just think that this will be a great opportunity for me. And a great thing for the citizens of Cumberland County because I can be almost positive that people want somebody in this office that knows the Register of Deeds — knows about what we do in this office.”

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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cumberland county, register of deeds, lee warren, andra brewington