Rob Russell: Candidate Profile
Kane County Coroner (Republican)
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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.
City: South Elgin
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Family: Married to Susan (25 years)
Daughters: Brooke and Brie
Sons: Bo and Brock
Occupation: Kane County Coroner
Education: B.S.-Sociology(Criminology) Northern Illinois University
M.A.- Political and Justice Studies- Governor's State University
Civic involvement: South Elgin Lions
Elgin Churches Flag Football League
Member of First Baptist of Geneva
Member of NRA
Elected offices held: Kane County Coroner (elected 2012)
Illinois Coroners Association District 1 Director (Appointed 2015)
What will your criteria be for determining if a death requires an autopsy?
First and foremost, the Illinois Statutes. The Coroner's statute outlines that "where a death cannot be DEFINITELY determined, it is in the public interest that an autopsy SHALL be performed."
Secondly, we look to national standards. This office is the first accredited coroner's office in the state and one of only 26 in the country. We follow these accreditation standards because they have been vetted by hundreds of Medical Examiners, Coroners, and Legal people, citing thousands of cases over tens of years. Personal experience is good, but many other professional people's experiences are much better in determining autopsy needs.
What role, if any, does the coroner's office have in preventing deaths and engaging in local advocacy, such as encouraging the use of Narcan and collecting unwanted prescription drugs?
I believe the office definitely has a role. Our role in the community lies beyond going to a scene, picking up a decedent, and performing an autopsy. We have a moral obligation to serve beyond our primary functions. Across this nation and the state, coroner's offices are making an impact in reducing preventable death. Unfortunately, there are too many career politicians who want to micro manage and think this is not necessary. This one dimensional thinking does not typically change until it impacts them personally. The DEA approved the KCCO as a prescription dropoff, so they also think it's important.
Is there an ongoing need to promote public awareness of the coroner's office and improve the office's image? If so, how should such promotions be funded?
In any public service organization there is a need to connect to the public. Especially if that public agency has previously had scandal associated with it. For all other Kane County agencies, it seems to be acceptable to budget for this. The coroner's office followed suit with all the other agencies and was criticized for doing so. My solution: establish a foundation like the Richland County SC Coroner did. Preparations have already begun to establish the KCCO foundation to support grieving families, provide funding for public awareness items, and supplement training for personnel and volunteers. Stay tuned!
What is the best strategy for ensuring the coroner's office is never over budget?
Balancing the need for reduction of costs and ensuring office functions are performed is an ongoing mission. It is the job of every elected official. It is very important that all elected officials not resort to being one dimensional in his/her approach. Most of the Coroner's Office functions are state mandated and must be performed. A budget is a best guess at what those costs will be. I have shown that it is possible to perform a high level of service while also being conscientious of the dollars by being under budget last year.
Please list any elected office you have ever run for and what the result of that election was. Have you ever been appointed to fill an unexpired term?
In 2010, I ran for office for the first time. I ran for Kane County Sheriff and lost to our current Sheriff, Don Kramer, in the Rep. Primary by 190 votes. I am proud of the way both Don and I conducted our elections. I believe we brought needed integrity back to the election process in Kane County. We showed that it is possible to be opponents without being enemies. To this day, Don and I are good friends. In 2012, I ran for Coroner and won both the primary and the general respectively and was elected coroner.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
As coroner, it is my responsibility to guide, lead, and protect the employees of this office. For too many years, this office had been neglected. It took many arguments and uncomfortable county board meetings to gain the much needed improvements this office needed. However, problems still exist. My deputies still handle more incidents per deputy than any of the collar counties. They still work out of an old garage with no shower or locker room. No private room for grieving families. If elected, I will continue these conversations and facilitate appropriate changes.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Dave Ramsey. He is a Christian personal finance person. I wish I could have know and followed his principles earlier in life.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Treat everybody with respect. We are all created by God and all are equally lost without him.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I would have tried to have more focus in college. I would have really been purposeful about preparing for a career.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English in senior year of HS. It taught me the proper way of how to write an essay.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Try hard to dig your well before your thirsty. Leaders anticipate, followers react.