Election 2012: Kane County Coroner
Two Republican candidates face each other in the Tuesday, March 20, primary election. The winner will face Democrat Tao Martinez, who is running unopposed, in the general election this fall.
L. Robert Russell
Rob Russell’s background as a 20-year veteran of the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office makes him uniquely qualified for the office, he explained.
While many assume that a county coroner’s focus is medically focused, he said that in reality, there is no medical requirement for the office, because all medical functions are outsourced to forensic pathologists and lab professionals. He said that out of the 102 counties in Illinois, only two coroners are doctors, and one more is a medical examiner.
“The role of the Coroner is one of a Peace Officer who is charged with investigating suspicious deaths (on the scene),” Russell said. “What prompted me to run for this position was the fact that I saw the opportunity to serve the citizens of Kane County in an area that closely resembled my strengths. My resume matches the job description for the Coroner’s Office.”
Russell explained that given his experience investigating death as a peace officer, he best understands the laws and procedures of a criminal investigation—specifically issues relating to evidence chain of custody.
He said the number-one issue facing the office currently is a lack of integrity. He said the next coroner must make the office his only priority.
“I will repair the bridges between the Coroner’s Office and other civil service agencies in Kane County,” he said. “I will serve the public with the same vigor I have had as a law enforcement professional.”
Integrity of the office could be further restored if it pursues accreditation, he said.
“I also see much value in accreditation,” Russell explained. “Becoming an accredited office will help solve the problems of the Kane County’s Coroner’s Office by incorporating the ‘best practices’ of agencies across the nation.”
From a facility standpoint, Russell said he understands that there are no funds to build a new morgue. However, he said that there remains a possibility to upgrade the office’s facilities by creating partnerships with other local facilities.
“In addition, by making the morgue an area training facility, we would be eligible for government grant money which could help speed the process along,” Russell said.
Robert Nicholas Tiballi
Robert Tiballi said that annually, there are slightly more than 2,700 cases that involve the Kane County Coroner’s Office. Less than 0.5% of those are homicides, meaning that approximately 2,700 cases are natural, suicide or accidental death.
Given those numbers, he said, his medical background and leadership experience are exactly what the office needs.
“When sworn in as Coroner, I will bring to the position 23 years of experience as a practicing physician, 15 years experience as a founder and administrator of a large medical group, 15 years managing a budget that I not only administer, but also raise capital to fund, and years of supervising and disciplining hundreds of my peers as an elected Chairman of the Department of Medicine of a large local hospital,” Tiballi said.
He explained that the coroner should be ready to supervise a diverse office of professional contractors and support staff while maintaining records accurately. In addition, the coroner must maintain good working relationships with outside agencies and law enforcement officials.
“I will restore focused, purposeful, reasoned and experienced leadership,” he said.
His first order of business would be to begin what he calls a “top to bottom, stem to stern review of all areas of the office including policies and procedures, work roles and assignments, physical equipment assets and reform the working operation of the office within the first two months on the job,” he said.
Tiballi said this office overhaul would include vital intangibles, such as a restoration of ethics and high professional standards that should already exist. Further, he would work to build positive relationships with local law enforcement, fire control and health professionals, which he said have been strained severely.
“Within the first month of taking office, I will meet personally with leaders in each jurisdiction of law enforcement and fire control in every part of the county to re-establish good working relationships,” Tiballi said.
He said that overall, he would combine his business sense with his medical expertise to rebuild the office from the ground up.
“Through much hard work and dedicated service I have seen good ideas succeed,” Tiballi said. “I believe that patience and perseverance conquer all things and I am one of the hardest workers you will ever meet.”