Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Why are you running for Coroner?
A: I want to see our families and our community receive the best possible service from this office. Your Coroner's office has the ability to be a true community resource. I want to build relationships with our community partners so that the impact of a death in your family can be minimized. By building relationships with Hospice and other care facilities, and our area doctors, I can streamline the processes needed to ensure that families have all the information they need in a timely manner. By building relationships with area clergy and funeral homes I can ensure that families spiritual as well as emotional needs are met and services are brought to them without delay or interruption. I want to make your Coroner's office the conduit that brings all aspects of caring for the passing of a family member together.
Q: What does our Coroner's office do?
A: The Kitsap County Coroner's Office receives reports of all the deaths in the county. We are then charged with determining the cause and manner of that death. In most of the cases, the cause is natural and the deceased is under a doctor's care. Our office does not take any further action in these cases and the decedent's doctor fills out and signs the certificate of death. In cases where the deceased has not been under the care of a physician or they died from accidental, homicidal, suicidal, or undetermined means, we investigate the death, seek out information from several other sources including the pathologist and other specialists, and then fill out the death certificate appropriately.
Q: Does the Coroner actually perform the autopsies?
A: No. Unlike Counties that operate under a Medical Examiner's office, Kitsap County operates under a Coroners office which contracts with certified Forensic Pathologists. The Forensic Pathologist group performs the inspections and autopsies of the bodies. The autopsies are conducted at our county morgue in Bremerton. While this is the current practice, the budget of the coroners office has increased over 30 percent in the last 4 years. As an example, Spokane County, with a population that is more than double that of Kitsap County, has a medical examiners office staffed with 2 doctors that are certified forensic pathologists, with an operating budget that is only 34% greater than ours. Kitsap County is positioned for extremely large amounts of growth over the next decade, and the county commissioners are funding this office accordingly. My staffing plan will provide for inclusion of forensic pathologist on staff under the current budget, and prepare for presentation of a medical examiner system to the voters in 6-8 years. This will provide for expected growth, provide seamless transition, while still maintaining and emphasizing the services, compassion, prevention and education programs already in place through this office. Please take a look at the cost breakdown:
Coroner vs. Medical Examiner Cost Breakdown:
Current Pathologist Contract: $192,000
Current Chief Deputy Coroner Salary: $85,000 + Full Benefits
Current Expenditures for Chief Deputy Coroner and Pathologist contract: $277,000 +Full Benefits for one FTE
Eliminate the Chief Deputy Coroner Position, discontinue contracted pathologist services, and Hire a full time Certified Forensic Pathologist:
Pathologist Salary: $180,000 +Full Benefits. Comparison: Pierce County entry Level: $171,000 + Benefits,
Spokane County Chief Medical Examiner: $185,000 +Benefits
Training budget for all staff $40,000
Autopsy Tech incentive for current staff: $50/hr x300 hr/yr = $15,000
Total Expenditure: $235,000
Net Savings $42,000
Long Term: regionalize services for Mason, Jefferson, and Clallam Counties, and eliminate the elected Coroner Position. Anticipate 6-8 years to finalize and implement
Anticipated income from surrounding counties for pathologist and Morgue Services: $75,000
Eliminated Elected Coroner Salary: $126,00 +Benefits
Net Income: $201,000 + Benefits for 1 FTE
Hire second forensic pathologist $200,000 +Benefits
This proposal operates within the current budget. It provides for 2 certified forensic pathologists with benefits and competitive pay. This also provides for training for all of our
personnel, as well as providing an incentive for personnel to be autopsy assistants. It leaves a $43,000 buffer for contingencies.
This proposal does not take into account the additional $70,000 in the outside services budget for supplemental professional services needed throughout the year, nor does it factor in increased budget allocation due to community growth. The numbers are solid, and verifiable.
I want our community to have the services it is paying for and I have a solid plan to put those services in place.
Q: What happens after an autopsy?
A: In most cases the body is released to the funeral home of the family's choice after the autopsy. We are in constant communication with the family during this process and provide as much information as possible to the families to keep them aware of what is going on and when, any conclusive information we have, and a projected timeline for testing results. In some cases law enforcement agencies or the prosecutor's office may request the body be held for further testing.
Q: What are the requirements and qualifications for running for coroner?
A: The Duties of the County Coroner are outlined in RCW 36.24 and 68.50 and their subsections. The Coroner is elected from the population of the County in question. The only requirement or qualification to be coroner is that the person holding the office be a registered voter and resident of that county.
Q: Why didn't you declare preference to a political party?
A: By their very nature political parties represent the interests and ideals of a certain segment of the community. I believe very strongly that the Coroner's Office must represent and care for all segments of our community. The coroners office is charged with determining the cause and manner of death. This is done by extremely objective fact finding without bias. By remaining non-partisan I am putting my commitment into action of not favoring or excluding any part of our community.
Q: What is the difference between the Coroner and a Deputy Coroner?
A: According to the law (RCW) the only difference is that a Deputy Coroner is appointed/hired by the Coroner with the permission of the County Commissioners. In reality the Coroner must be able to perform all the functions of a Deputy Coroner in addition to providing administrative leadership of the office. I will work with all of our surrounding communities to ensure that our modern facilities are utilized to their fullest potential to be a regional resource. I will also build relationships with our community partners, making sure that we are working in concert with each other. This will ensure that: justice is served, that the deceased have a voice through our office, families have closure in a timely manner, and that your Coroner's staff are well equipped, highly trained, and focused on serving the needs of our community
Q: What makes you qualified to be our Coroner?
A: My extensive medical training over the past 25 years, along with my experience in law enforcement and being a Deputy Coroner for over 11 years, two of which were with the Kitsap County Coroner's office, give me unique insight and ability. My experience in serving families and communities through my work in the fire service, as well as 6 years in law enforcement as a special deputy, coupled with my Bachelor's degree in Public Safety Administration, and my Master's degree in Leadership give me the administrative background and exposure to the latest developments in management and technology to streamline the operations of your Coroner's office. I am a progressive leader, a forward thinking manager, and a relational individual. I have the education, experience, and personality to lead and grow your Coroner's office into a true community resource.
I know these are just a few of the questions that are out there. I am more than happy to talk to anyone or any group and answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to call or email me at any time. I am looking forward to hearing from you!