The duties of the coroner are clear. Investigate any sudden, unexpected, violent, suspicious or unnatural deaths.
In the policy and procedure manual - Walla Walla County Office of Coroner, the term "investigate" is used no less than 66 times. Not so with medical experience. Likewise, for other county coroners in Washington.
In fact, 18 of the 39 Washington counties have prosecutors who double as a coroner. Not medical staff!
I am 55 years of age and was born and raised in the Walla Walla Valley. I have been married to my wife, Darlene, for 26 years and we have three adult children.
I believe my background, experiences and education have prepared me for all aspects of the coroner's office.
I have worked in agricultural, light industries, manufacturing, transportation and served on the Water District 14 Board of Directors. As a farmer, foreman, mechanic, board of director and volunteer I have worked with many local and state agencies. All of which will serve me in the duties of the coroner, from investigating a death to budget constraints.
Coroners are limited to taking blood, urine and tissue samples. Autopsies must be performed by a pathologist or medical examiner. Evidence from autopsies must support civil actions or criminal prosecution.
Out of the approximately 600 deaths in Walla Walla County, physicians signed approximately 53 percent of the death certificates. These are considered "physician attend." This may include hospitals, nursing homes and hospice deaths. The coroner reviews the remaining 47 percent and will investigate approximately 18 percent to 20 percent of the deaths.
Beyond the statistics and laws are the survivors - family members left behind. I will see that families will be compassionately supported by:
The thorough investigation to determine cause of death.
Honest and timely information in their moment of grief.
These two items will assist families with insurance and pension claims, Social Security, settling of estates and burial arrangements.
The coroner recognizes a responsibility to Walla Walla County to provide the first level of support to survivors. It's the coroner's duty to help families of the deceased to find counseling and support through the health-care community.
I believe the coroner's office has an obligation to be proactive. With the support of the Washington Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners I would assist other agencies with education and prevention of risky behaviors in our school aged children. These programs include: "One Every 15 Minutes" and "Scared Straight." These programs are funded through the Washington Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners and the state.
I would like to bring the Coroner's Office into the 21st century by incorporating an enhance computer system and case management software for the information on death statistics. This would mean time availability to law enforcements, health departments, and social workers on such tragedies as teenage suicides, alcohol-related car accidents, disease and homicides.
I will direct my energies to an alternative funding through state and federal grants to supplement our budget. My background in private industry and my time spent on the Water District 14 Board has given me the experience I need to work within a budget.
Families, first responders, law enforcements, health-care providers and funeral homes all deserve a coroner who will communicate, cooperate and consistently apply the policies and procedures of the coroner's office. A strong working relationship with neighboring coroners can only benefit us. Much like the mutual aid between fire departments.
I have done my best to take this campaign seriously. The following are the people I have visited with and listened to to see what they expect from a coroner: Survivors, first responders, law enforcement, health-care providers, funeral homes, local and state agencies, clergy and ministers and neighboring coroners.
I am the only candidate to be endorsed by:
Walla Walla Firefighters Local 404 (including Paramedics)
Fraternal Order of Police Blue Mountain Lodge 9
Steven Ames, retired Walla Walla coroner
Dan Blasdel, Franklin County coroner
Wendell Prins, retired Washington State Patrol sergeant
Walt Gobel, Waitsburg mayor and retired Washington State Patrol sergeant
I live in the Walla Walla, College Place area and I am only 15 minutes away from three hospitals and 10 nursing homes. Thirty minutes to Waitsburg, Prescott and Touchet.
One of my first priorities will be to establish a deputy coroner in the Burbank area for better response time.
I am looking forward to serving the community that has supported my family and me these many years! I would appreciate your vote for coroner this election!