Endorsement: Howard Cooper for Lake County coroner

Lake County voters will choose between one-term incumbent Republican Howard Cooper and Democrat Jennifer Banek in the Nov. 4 race for coroner.

Cooper, of Wadsworth, is a dentist with extensive experience in forensics, including helping with victim identification after the World Trade Center 9/11 terrorist attack and Hurricane Katrina. Banek, of Green Oaks, is a nurse anesthesiologist and Cook Memorial Library District board member. Both stress the importance of community outreach to prevent death.

Cooper said he prioritizes helping people heal and grieve on what could be the worst day of their life, and educating residents of all ages to avoid risky behaviors. His outreach has included speaking to students in schools, Scout groups, adults in social clubs and community service groups about such dangers as texting while driving, drinking and driving, drugs and suicide, and urging them to make good choices.

He was elected in 2016 with a pledge to reform and professionalize an office that had previously faced ethical problems. Under his leadership, it received its first accreditation, making it one of only two in the state and 26 in the country with that designation.

He has increased transparency by providing annual reports and by conducting inquests - the first since 2006 - for all officers involved in in-custody deaths.

Banek, who has a history of community involvement and is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, says she would talk to legislators about preventable deaths she's seeing in the county and would connect residents to useful and vetted resources. She has criticized Cooper for not submitting monthly reports to the Lake County Board.

She says she would bring an increased sense of advocacy, professionalism and collaboration to the coroner's office.

Cooper has a four-year record of doing that. He is endorsed.

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