Election 2012: Kane County Coroner

By on October 26, 2012

Candidates focus on restoring public’s trust in the office
Both challengers for the office of Kane County Coroner are in professions that relate to the office, so both bring a measure of experience to the race.

Tao Martinez
Martinez is the president and founder of ArchAngels BioRecovery, Inc., a company dedicated to the assistance of families suffering from the tragic loss of a loved one and victims of violence. Services include infection control of hazardous environments that result from homicides, suicides, unattended deaths and mass-casualty incidents.

That experience often puts him in touch with coroners from throughout the Midwest and beyond, as well as the families of victims.

“I currently handle homicides, suicides, industrial accidents, and mass casualty incidents on a day to day basis, and it is my job to get directly involved with the families,” Martinez said. “It has always been my passion to help others during their worst times, and achieving this position would give me the opportunity to work on prevention, which is the only way that we can offset the number of deaths that we see currently.”

He said that if elected, he would turn his attention to restoring the public’s trust in the office.

“The reputation of the Coroner’s office has been tarnished, and it will take a lot of hard work to re-establish trust,” Martinez said. “The only way to start the healing process and repairing the image of this office is by establishing and enforcing a policy and procedural manual for all employees … As a team, improving the public image begins with building working relationships with various agencies, and focusing on raising community awareness toward programs that promote safety, health, education and life skills. Together we can work toward reducing the number of lost lives.”

Martinez also plans to streamline the office’s budget to address the financial challenges posed by the struggling economy. He said he has established relationships with other agencies to bring in resources and apply local funds to retain operations at no additional cost to the county. He also said that establishing mutual aid agreements with other nearby counties would qualify for Homeland Security Grant funds.

He said that while the primary function of the office is to determine the cause of death, there is another function he wants to ensure doesn’t get overlooked: focusing on community safety.

“As an elected official, not only is there an obligation to the office, but an obligation to the community,” Martinez said. “The best way to reduce the cost of operations within this office is to aggressively promote community awareness through various educational programs that will address domestic violence, drunk driving, bullying, drug abuse and many other acts of violence that can lead directly to homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. By following this approach, it is my belief that we would be saving funds, but most importantly, we will be saving lives.”

L. Robert ‘Rob’ Russell
Russell has 20 years of county law enforcement experience in all three sheriff bureaus: corrections, court security and patrol. He is currently a sergeant with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, and feels that his experience and education are perfect for the role of Kane County Coroner.

“I have spent the majority of my working life serving the public as a law enforcement officer,” Russell said. “I have always looked for areas of need in which I could make a difference. I decided to run for coroner because the office was in need of a leader. I believe my qualifications best fit the job description, and I would like to have the opportunity to improve and professionalize this office.”

He said that upon taking office, he would focus his efforts on establishing clear-cut accountable policies and procedures, establishing a common-sense educational campaign to help prevent unnecessary deaths, and updating the current morgue facilities.

To deal with the policies and procedures, Russell would begin working with other coroners throughout Illinois.

“Most Illinois coroners provide a high level of compassionate service and are impeccably professional. I have, and will continue, to seek out those coroners who have maintained honor and integrity while serving in this vital office,” Russell said.

Russell said his efforts to raise community awareness would be centered on the most-common types of unnecessary deaths that occur in the county.

“Issues like DUI crashes, heroin and synthetic drug use are some of the issues that have plagued many of our young people,” Russell said. “One of the things I have already done is to print up bumper magnets that say ‘slow down-speed kills’. Several people have commented that they have seen these magnets on vehicles while driving around Kane County. Hopefully, this pro-active step has raised awareness and had an impact. I have many more ideas like this that I would like to bring to the office when elected.”

While Russell said he is focused on improving the office’s morgue facilities, he said he is not interested in building a new facility. Instead, he is interested in exploring resource sharing with area hospitals.

“Unfortunately, the most contact that people have with the Coroner’s Office is when tragedy strikes,” he said. “I do not want these victims to identify their loved ones in the dilapidated facilities that we currently have. It is important that families coming to the Coroner’s Office are shown compassion in a professional environment.”