Lake County Coroner candidates Steve Newton (R) and Thomas Rudd (D) debated over their credentials and goals at Sunday afternoons League of Women Voters forum held in Lake Forest at the Lake Forest – Lake Bluff Senior Center.
Rudd stressed that the coroners office is a laboratory and should be headed by a physician who can talk to other physicians. He also said he would get the coroners office certified by the National Association of Medical Examiners if elected. Rudd’s goal is to have the coroner position changed to a “medical examiner” position and thus candidates must be registered doctors.
Newton stated that the position of coroner is not to do the actual autopsies since it is prohibited by law, but instead is to evaluate policy and make sure the office policies are according to law. The position has never been held by a physician in the past.
A question was asked by the audience if either would consider merging any portion of the office with other offices, such as the Sheriff’s office to reduce expenses. neither saw that as an option due to the nature of the coroners office. Newton also pointed out that the coroners office has a low 1.2 million dollar budget that handles a lot of cases.
When asked about notifying family members about a death, Rudd explained the process and said he had done this many times when acting as a physician. Newton brought up the fact that Rudd had stated in past debates that he would wait until the ‘appropriate time” to contact family members, even waiting until the following morning if an accident happened late at night or early in the AM hours. Newton felt that family members should know “in a timely manner” no matter how inconvenient it might be to the Coroner.
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