PEKIN — Concern for families at their worst moments and a need to manage Tazewell County Coroner's Office in an efficient manner are two ideas that all three Republican candidates can agree upon.
No Democrats are running for the spot being vacated by Jeff Baldi, so whoever wins the March 20 primary is likely to become the next county coroner.
Running are Scott A. Price, Steve Bresnahan and Charles “Charlie” Hanley. The winner will finish out Baldi's remaining two years.
All bring a diverse background. Price is a deputy coroner and a veteran. Hanley is a licensed funeral home director who grew up in the business and Bresnahan has served with the Pekin Fire Department for 28 years. Their backgrounds, they all say, make them uniquely qualified for the job.
"Being in the 'trenches' with the coroner’s office has given me first hand knowledge for the compassion and empathy needed for the families of the recently deceased," said Bresnahan, who has said he would retire from the Fire Department if elected. In addition, he said, the office could be used for more than just accounting for the recently deceased. Bresnahan said he would use the position for public health issues such as drug abuse.
"In addition to the traditional workings of the coroner’s office, my goal is to implement a positive, proactive approach to prevent unnecessary deaths in Tazewell County, especially from the rising opioid crisis that has ravaged communities all over the nation. I would like to develop a model of working hand in hand with schools and reaching out to citizens though various forms of media and social campaigns," he said.
Hanley points to his lifelong experience with the mortuary business. He started to help his father at the funeral home when he started high school.
"I have demonstrated a lifelong respect for preserving the dignity of the deceased. I have a caring heart, great respect for the law and care and concern for others," he said, adding he believes his strong relationships with other funeral home directors would be an asset for the office. He pledged, as did the others, to go to crime scenes or to incidents that required additional attention. He also noted his educational background which includes death investigation and mortuary science training.
He also says he's well equipped to deal with budgeting issues the office faces as he runs his own funeral home.
Price has been a deputy coroner for about 10 years and during that time, he's been involved in more than 2,000 coroner cases. To him, the office is about compassion and integrity.
"One of the ways that I relate to the families of decedents is to put myself in their place. I treat them in a manner that I would expect if I were the one dealing with a sudden or unexpected death," he said. Price too says he's well equipped to deal with the budget constraints. Working within the office, he said, has afforded him a sense of what works and what doesn't.
All three say they are for increasing transparency at the coroner's office. They agree that informing family members comes first and there is a need for discretion. But they also said that information the public through the media was also important to stop the spread of misinformation.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.