Harrison County Coroner
October 15, 2008
One office up for election this year is that of county coroner. Below are profiles on the two candidates, Democrat Rusty Sizemore and Republican Ray E. Saylor.
Ray E. Saylor
Spouse: Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Children: Randy Spieth, 24, and Kimberly Spieth, 22
Occupation: Police Chief, Milltown Police Dept.
School and year graduate: High school, 1975
Additional education: University of Alaska, criminal justice major; graduate, Indiana Law Enforcement Academy; graduate, Ivy Tech, Emergency Medical Technician; certified, State of Indiana Medico-legal Death Investigator; certified, forensic interviewer, crime scene investigator, sudden unexplained death investigator
Political affiliation: Republican
Previous political experience: None held
Duties of the position sought: The coroner's primary duty is to investigate and determine the cause and manner of death. While many of the coroner's duties are of a more legal nature, the coroner's duty to the community is to serve them with dignity and respect.
Why are you seeking the office: Serving as a deputy coroner and as a law enforcement officer for many years, I understand the importance of having someone who is dedicated, qualified and experienced serving as the county coroner. I also understand the necessity of having a county coroner who is compassionate, professional and honest when serving loved ones when they are dealing with a loss. The county coroner must be able to be a good steward of the taxpayers' money, making sure the office is ran efficiently and in a responsible manner. I believe I am the most qualified candidate to serve the citizens of Harrison County as their county coroner.
What qualifies you for the office? I have successfully completed the State of Indiana required Medico-Legal Death Investigator training, which is required to serve as the coroner. I have also worked as a deputy coroner in both Harrison and Crawford County, and I have over 18 years experience in law enforcement. I also have 23 years experience as an Emergency Medical Technician. I have the law enforcement and medical background to professionally serve as coroner of Harrison County. Additionally, I have the administrative experience to see that the coroner's office operates in a professional, proficient manner.
What one trait do you think a coroner should have? Why? There are many traits that the coroner must possess in order to be truly effective. However, the coroner must be a person who has the ability to seek out the truth in a compassionate, professional manner in order to determine the cause and manner of death.
What problems, if any, does the coroner's office face? While there will be many challenges to professionalize, the coroner's office, the budget will be an issue that will require immediate attention.
How would you resolve these problems? I plan to professionalize the coroner's office by making sure that every deputy coroner has the dedication, professionalism and proper training to serve the citizens of Harrison County with the dignity and respect they deserve beginning day one. I will work closely with both the county commissioners and county council to ensure the coroner's office is working within the approved budget. This will require a teamwork approach in making sure that every expenditure is properly evaluated prior to being made.
There is talk at the state level of eliminating the county coroner position and going to a regional office. Do you think this would be beneficial to local taxpayers? Why or why not? There have been several unsuccessful attempts during this year's legislative session to eliminate, or drastically reduce, the duties of Indiana's county coroners. The Indiana State Coroner's Association and the coroner's offices in all 92 counties in Indiana adamantly oppose this type of legislation because of the enormous cost to the taxpayers. I personally oppose any legislation that would eliminate or reduce the duties of the county coroner because county coroners are one of the most professionally trained elected officials in the state. They are required to meet extensive training requirements in the medical and legal field and pass a state-mandated test in order to serve after being elected to the office. I have already completed this training and have received the state certification required to be a county coroner. I also believe the county coroner is best fitted to work with the family members who are dealing with a loss in a time of personal crisis. I would encourage anyone who has questions regarding this type of legislation to contact their state senator or representative. They may also contact me.
Other comments: As coroner, I will establish a professional chaplaincy program within the coroner's office to assist families and others when needed. The program will be staffed by volunteer chaplains who are professionally trained.
Contact information for voters: Home, 347-3047; cell, 267-4813
Children: Mike, Andrew, Leigh Ann, Jordan
Occupation: Water/wastewater superintendent
School and year graduate: 1970, Lanesville High School
Additional education: Indiana Law Enforcement Academy; certified water operator and wastewater operator
Political affiliation: Democrat
Previous political experience: None
Duties of the position sought: Death notification, investigate cause of death either criminal or natural causes, work with medical examiner on cause of death, complete report of findings to family and state.
Why are you seeking the office: The job interests me, and I have the compassion and professional background to complete the duties of coroner.
What qualifies you for the office? My police background in crime investigation. I'm a private investigator, which not only allows me to work for the public but gives me the ability to investigate crime scenes, not only criminal but civil.
What one trait do you think a coroner should have? Why? Compassion. You are dealing with the public, the hardest time in their lives.
What problems, if any, does the coroner's office face? Not only taking charge of death investigation or crime scene, but having the ability to work along with police, EMT, paramedics and fire department. These people are also professionally trained in their fields.
How would you resolve these problems? By allowing these other professionally trained departments to do their jobs first. If coroner is needed, then at that time should the coroner be notified to take over the investigation.
There is talk at the state level of eliminating the county coroner position and going to a regional office. Do you think this would be beneficial to local taxpayers? Why or why not? You can't buy compassion. Your coroner is someone well known in the community. By state allowing this to happen would be devastating to your community. That is why it is an elected position.
Other comments: People think you have to be a doctor, EMT, a paramedic or some medical field to qualify for coroner. This is wrong. When the coroner is called, the most prestigious medical doctors cannot help. By working with your medical examiner, the cause of death will be determined. If it's a crime scene, at this time the investigation of death begins.
Contact information for voters: 951-2295