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updated: 2/10/2012 4:27 PM

Robert Russell: Candidate Profile

Kane Coroner (Republican)

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  • Robert Russell, running for Kane Coroner

      Robert Russell, running for Kane Coroner

 

 

 

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: South Elgin

Website: russell4coroner.com

Office sought: Kane Coroner

Age: 44

Family: Married, 4 children

Occupation: Deputy Sheriff Sergeant

Education: Master of Arts in Political and Justice Studies, Governor's State University Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Northern Illinois University

Civic involvement: South Elgin Lions Club Member of First Baptist Church of Geneva

Elected offices held: None

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My number one issue is educating the public that the Office of Coroner is an investigative office, not a medical one. Many have not read the Illinois Statute nor realize that the Coroner is a Peace Office with the same powers as the sheriff (55 ILCS 5/3-3007).

The Coroner does not perform autopsies or toxicological lab work. The medical duties of the office are outsourced to medical professionals, even if the coroner is a doctor. Investigative skills are imperative, that is why 98% of the Coroners in Illinois are not doctors.

Key Issue 2

My number two issue is to establish good policies and procedures for office members to follow based on the 'best practices' both locally and nationally. I will do this by interacting with other county coroners and also initiating office accreditation with the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (www.theiacme.com).

Key Issue 3

My third issue is updating the morgue. I do not suggest building a new morgue, rather resource sharing with an area hospital until the economy allows for funds to be available.

I would also like to partner with area universities and colleges to make the Kane County Coroner's Office a training facility.

This may allow for state training funds to also be utilized to share in the cost of a new morgue.

Questions & Answers

What would your policy be on the handling and storage of evidence and materials from death scenes' Specifically, should employees be allowed to take items from death scenes home with them under any circumstances'

Any handling of evidence and materials must have strict guidelines and chain of custody procedures. Evidence on crime scenes will normally be performed by the law enforcement agency in which the crime occurred. Property should remain in the residence of the victim for next of kin to allocate, as it makes no sense to remove it from a secured residence. Victim's property not at a residence should be properly identified, recorded, and given to the next of kin as soon as possible. Unclaimed property is to be sold and the funds are to be remanded to the County Treasurer. Establishing office accreditation will quickly resolve this issue, as the process is geared to generate transparent, accountable policies.

At no time should an employee take ANY item to his/her home under any circumstance.

The county board has considered converting the coroner's office into more of a medical examiner position several times now. What is your view on the differences in those setups and what is best for Kane County's needs'

It has been all but proven that Kane County cannot afford a Medical Examiner.

For a county of Kane's size, it makes more sense to continue with the coroner system. Problems in coroner's offices in the state have not necessarily been problems in the system, rather character problems with the coroners themselves.

In counties where the coroner has good integrity, the system works well and for much less than a medical examiners office. The key seems to be electing good people who have good investigative skills and are dedicated to performing the job on a full time basis.

How do you resolve the ongoing debate over the county board setting budgets for departments run by other elected officials whom the county board has no control over? How should the county board enforce the budgets it sets'

It is true that the county board has no control over administering the allocated funds or managing the functions of each elected county office. However, by statute, the board does control how much is allocated (55 ILCS 5/3-3003). I believe this was written into the statute for the same reason that our forefathers wrote a similar concept in our U.S. Constitution: separation of powers.

No one should have complete control over anything.

What is supposed to happen, is the office holders are to submit a budget based on needs, and the board reviews them.

If the budget is reasonable, then the board should approve it.

If unreasonable, then discussions need to commence. If the board is being unreasonable, then it is the job of the elected official to articulate closely why the funds are needed.

This will reveal to the people who the most reasonable is, and the people,in turn, will appropriately chastise the unreasonable in the voting booth.

Do you believe the county board members and chairman should receive health insurance and pension benefits'

County Board members and the chairman take time away from their families to perform several very important functions for all of us Kane county residents.

We cannot ask that they perform these functions for free, so they need to be reasonably compensated for performing those functions. I do not know if health insurance and pension benefits are unreasonable, but we must compensate them either by salary or benefits.

More information is needed for me to make a sound opinion on this.

Do you support a more stringent ethics ordinance for Kane County governing the conduct of elected officials and county employees' Why or why not? If so, what should the ordinance contain?

I do support a more stringent ethics ordinance. For too long, unethical behavior has been unchallenged.

A better ethics ordinance will encourage more integrity in the political process and hopefully bring in new people to run for various offices. We need less career politicians and more newcomers to ensure that the population is reflected properly. The new ordinance should not allow employees of an office to contribute to his/her 'boss' financially, and should set better limits on contributions from those who do business with the particular county office.

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