Ex-sheriff’s deputy Mike Chilton won a three way vote for the post of Ada County Coroner in the Tuesday primary.
He defeated a former restaurateur who campaigned with signs showing dripping blood, and the current deputy coroner, Robert Karinen.
There are mixed takes on how the Ada Coroner office has evolved under Erwin Sonnenberg, who will retire in January. Karinen had been groomed as the successor. By all accounts he is well qualified–but apparently not as a politician.
For better or worse, Sonnenberg had created an empire. The office had 17 staffers and Sonnenberg sought a new facility during the last budget conference. The commishes denied the request.
Ada county provides autopsy services–for a fee–to about half the counties in the state. To our knowledge no other county agency has such a wide “business” reach. While cooperation among counties is laudable, we question the wisdom of one elected county official selling services to another county.
Some argue it reduces costs for Ada taxpayers, but we feel a better solution would be a statewide MEDICAL EXAMINER system. In these days of highly scientific exams, expensive technical devices, and–no joke–cooler space, a state system makes sense.
There are no medical qualifications for the office of coroner and that leaves it open to restaurant managers, former coppers, or anyone else who seeks public office.
An interesting side note about the office. The coroner is the only person who can arrest a sheriff. It does happen when investigations reveal crooked sheriffs who are formally arrested by the coroner.
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