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Vote 2012 Preview: Sangamon County Coroner
When a loved one passes away, especially when it's not from a natural cause, you want the best person possible to investigate the death. That's the job of a coroner. And in Sangamon County, voters have two candidates vying for the job.
Since June 1, 2011, Cinda Edwards has been the Sangamon County coroner. She was appointed by the county board after coroner Susan Boone retired amidst controversy.
"We've moved the office forward greatly and have pretty much restored the faith [in the office]," Edwards said.
Edwards, who has a medical background, is the Republican candidate for coroner in the November election. Her challenger is Democrat Jerry Curry. He's currently the executive director of the Mary Bryant Home for the Blind. He also own a funeral home in Pawnee and has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for 32 years.
"I deal with families on a daily basis dealing with death," Curry said.
Edwards had only been in office a few weeks when a study by an outside company found the coroner's office had no specific policy or procedure to investigate deaths, inconsistent documentation of findings, a lack of quality control, and other problems.
At the time, the coroner's office kept all records on paper. Now, the office uses a web-based program to track cases.
"I think there's always room for improvement," Edwards said. "What Cinda has done has been the minimum. She created policies and procedures she basically copied from Google."
The Sangamon County coroner's office handles an average of 170 autopsies a year. As of now, all are done in Bloomington, because Edwards says there is not a qualified forensic pathologist in Springfield right now. But she says she's working to find one.
While it may cost more in gas to take bodies to Bloomington for an autopsy, Edwards said x-rays and photography costs are cheaper there.
"It all evens out to be about the same amount of money," Edwards said. "It's just not as convenient."
However, Curry has a different idea.
"I don't believe in outsourcing," he said. "We're trying to build up a medical district in Springfield and Sangamon County, yet we're sending lab work, our loved ones, 75 miles away."
"I would rather get a quality job done, and we'll do what we have to do to see that happen," Edwards said.
When Edwards first took office, there was a local pathologist who performed autopsies, but she said he did not return reports on time. So Edwards outsources that work to Bloomington until she can get a qualified pathologist here.
The Sangamon County corner's race will be on the ballot for all Sangamon County voters November 6.
Watch the raw interview with Cinda Edwards.
Watch the raw interview with Jerry Curry.