GOP fields 3 candidates in primary for coroner

Three candidates, all new to politics, will compete for the Republican nomination for county coroner during the May 3 primary election.

Those candidates are Michael Bobb and Mark Holt, both of Seymour, and Shane Collier of Brownstown. The winner will face Seymour funeral home director Andy Rumph in the Nov. 8 general election.

Rumph, who is running unopposed on the Democratic Party ballot, previously held the coroner’s job before Democrat Roger Wheeler won it more than seven years ago. State law prohibits a person from serving as coroner for more than two four-year terms.

According to the candidates, the work of coroner seems straightforward — pronounce people dead.

That, however, is not always the case, especially when the person died from violence, unexplained or suspicious circumstances or alone. There also are people who can’t be identified easily because of the way they died, such as someone killed in a house fire.

“When the cause of death isn’t immediately obvious, a coroner must inquire and decide on a cause before the death can be certified,” Bobb said.

The job of the coroner is as Holt said — to do a thorough examination of the deceased to determine and verify the cause of death.

All three candidates gave several reasons why they would like to become coroner.

Bobb said he wants to get more involved in county government and services, while Holt said helping bring closure to the family of the deceased was something he could help do.

Collier said bringing closure to families is one of the factors behind his decision to run along with his plan to treat every case as if the person was a part of his family.

The coroner plays a key role in the investigative process, aiding local and state law enforcement in the event of a death under mysterious circumstances.

Determining the cause of death in uncertain circumstances by working with a pathologist can be stressful, especially considering it’s just a part-time position.

Wheeler earned $10,048 for his work as a coroner in 2015, but he also is a supervisor with Jackson County Emergency Medical Services.

Author photo
Aaron Piper is a photographer and reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at apiper@tribtown.com or 812-523-7057.