Mark L. Justen Candidate profile
Office sought: McHenry County Coroner
Family: Spouse, Nancy; two adult children, Robert Justen and Alexander Justen
Occupation: Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer
Education: Graduate of McHenry High School District 156; two years at Indiana State University; Graduate of Worsham College of Mortuary Science
Civic involvement: Trustee, McHenry Township Fire Protection District; Knights of Columbus Council 1288; Woodstock Elks; McHenry Masonic Lodge 158
Elected offices held: None
Incumbent? If yes, when were first elected:
Questions and Answers
1. Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
I had a strong interest in running for this office six years ago, but the time wasn't right. With the addition of my son, Robert, to run the family business, I am now able to step away to devote full time to the coroner's office.
2. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
I have always had a strong work ethic in death care, coupled with good organization skills and keen attention to detail. My priority would be to eliminate the long delays in providing the families proper closure. The coroner's office has come under fire for disorganization, and the interim coroner has accomplished much in the area of implementing best practices. I would hope to bring consistency and stability to the office.
3. What special experience and professional qualifications does a person need to be an effective coroner? What experiences and qualifications do you possess that will provide a foundation for your success in the office?
Compassion and empathy to the citizens who need the services of the coroner's office. I have been a funeral director for over 43 years, and I have interacted with both the Coroner and the deputies of the coroner's office while caring for the families I have served. I have reported cases to the coroner's office that I have identified that may require investigation. Lastly, I have seen and interacted with many coroners in my 44 years of death care, and I have learned what works and what does not work.
4. Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the coroner's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
As technology advances, it is important to keep up to date with staff training and educational opportunities. What had been budgeted for the coroner's office in the last term was not spent as a result of the last elected coroner choosing not to use the budget. I believe what should be looked at more closely is the outsourcing of transfers back to the coroner's office for autopsy or further examination.
5. Describe your position on transparency and public service in the coroner's office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
One issue is that fact that the previous coroner has appointed the receptionist as the FOIA contact, perhaps for initial contact requests, but for information being released, a receptionist should never have the burden of that responsibility placed on that position.