Lake County coroner hopefuls have different priorities
The candidates for Lake County coroner cited different key issues when asked by the Daily Herald about their top concerns.
Two Democrats and two Republicans are running for the post.
The Democrats are incumbent Artis Yancey and primary challenger Dr. Thomas Rudd. The Republicans are Steve Newton and Howard Cooper.
The winners of the two primaries will face off in the November general election.
All four men talked about their priorities and other issues in questionnaires for the Daily Herald.
Cooper, a dentist, said his first mission, if elected, will be to make death prevention a priority for the office.
"As coroner, I will spend my time with young people at our county's high schools to talk about the dangers of texting and driving, drinking and driving, drugs, suicide and risky behavior," Cooper wrote.
Cooper also said the office needs to ensure grieving families are treated with compassion and respect, and he wants all deputy coroners to be certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.
Newton, a court security officer and former deputy coroner, said he is "passionate" about the level of service the office provides to citizens.
"The death of a loved one is the worst possible time in a person's life, and (it) should be handled in a compassionate, professional and timely manner to minimize the hardship placed on the deceased's family members," he wrote.
Newton also said the coroner's office must strengthen relationships with local police and fire departments, hospitals and funeral homes to provide good service to the community. Additionally, he said cost-saving measures are needed because of economic pressures.
Rudd, a physician and surgeon, said his top priority is to develop "core competencies" for all death investigations.
"This will be done by establishing measurable standards for the office (that) are nationally recognized and accepted by the forensic medicine death investigation societies and associations," Rudd wrote.
Following national standards will ensure investigations are based on current scientific and medical expertise, he said.
Rudd also took issue with the coroner's post being, by state statute, a law-enforcement position. He promised all investigations "will be nonpolitical and neutral without any hint of conflicts of interest."
Rudd also pledged to run the office in a fiscally responsible manner.
When asked to identify his top campaign issue, Yancey — a former police chief — talked about the steps he has taken to improve the operations of the office since being appointed coroner last year. He said the office now uses bar code information to track evidence and other materials, properly stores evidence and has adopted sound fiscal policies, among other improvements.
Yancey also said he's seeking accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners.
Additionally, the coroner's office should increase public awareness about preventable deaths related to suicides, car accidents caused by distracted driving, infant bedding and drug use, he said.
Public service announcements, office tours and public outreach efforts could get people talking about these topics, Yancey said.
"(They could) turn them into teachable moments that will help save lives," he said.
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