Last week’s appointment of an interim coroner was the end of a sad chapter that lasted more than two years. Former Coroner Chuck West spent more than half of his last term fighting official misconduct charges, an ordeal ended only by his recent death.
It’s not exactly the perfect occasion for political campaigning.
But when Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay appointed Brad Sauer as the interim coroner, she made a statement that appeared to do just that. Sauer recently retired as Sugar Grove police chief. McConnaughay pointed out why he was a good choice, with his background in law enforcement, county government and administration.
And then she went a step further, saying, “I see it as clearly a law-enforcement position.” That was Republican candidate Rob Russell’s successful campaign message this spring, when the DuPage County Sheriff’s deputy beat Dr. Bob Tiballi in the primary election.
That probably will be part of Russell’s message this fall, too, when he faces Democrat Tao Martinez, the founder and president of ArchAngels BioRecovery.
It’s laudable that McConnaughay didn’t merely appoint Russell, a move that would have given him a huge advantage over Martinez. But hers was an unnecessary comment that could have waited. It’s no surprise that McConnaughay would back her fellow Republican for such a position. But the endorsement-like comment last week was unnecessary.
It also wasn’t always so clear that the coroner job should be a law-enforcement position. In July 2010, McConnaughay was talking about exploring whether the job should be eliminated and replaced by a medical examiner position.
That conversation never went too far, but it did exist. And the campaign debate will go on, too, at its proper time. Let the healing begin. The politics can wait.