When Democrat Artis Yancey was appointed Lake County coroner last April, he inherited a mess. His predecessor had been forced to resign. Evidence was improperly stored, and there was a backlog of remains. Yancey, a former Waukegan police chief, has made progress in restoring order to the office, and we support him in the upcoming Democratic primary.
His opponent, Dr. Thomas Rudd, argues that a doctor needs to head up the office and, in fact, has vowed to ask Lake County voters to replace the elected coroner system with a medical examiner. While his medical background is a plus, Rudd's focus on how a doctor could better handle a terrorist attack obscures what the office truly does. And the unpleasant way he has conducted himself during the campaign calls into question how he would deal with both law enforcement and grieving families. In the Democratic primary, Yancey is the better choice.
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The Republican primary is less clear-cut.
Both Steve Newton and Howard Cooper bring impressive qualifications to the job, and both emphasize the importance of professional standards and compassion. Our only concern is the amount of time the two would be able to devote to this post. Cooper has a busy dental practice. And while he vows to make the coroner's post a priority, we find it hard to see how he could juggle the demands of both. Newton, a former deputy coroner, would make it his full-time focus. In our minds, that -- coupled with his previous experience in the office -- gives him the edge.