The incumbent Floyd County coroner is facing a challenger in the May 8 Democratic primary and the Republican race in Clark County is contested, as a new person prepares to take over after the Coots family, which is leaving the position for the first time since the 1920s.
Someone from the Coots’ family has been coroner for Clark County since 1888, with the exception of two years in the late 1920s. The family took turns with the role, allowing them to continue, even with the law limiting people to only being able to hold the position for two terms (8 years) in a row.
However, outgoing coroner Edwin “Huck” Coots IV cannot run again for a third-consecutive term, and his son, 21-year-old Edwin “Tucker” Coots V, is in college and isn’t ready for the position.
Now, John Hall is running unopposed for the Democratic Party ticket. Terry Conway, 43, and Mark Goodlett, 45, are vying for the Republican seat to go up against Hall in the final November election.
Conway and Goodlett are both firefighters and paramedics. Conway, of Jeffersonville, works for the New Chapel Fire Department, in Floyd County, and volunteers for the Utica Fire Department. Goodlett, of Charlestown, works for the Clarksville Fire Department and volunteers for the Utica and New Chapel fire departments.
“As a paramedic, I’m usually on the scene dealing with the death of a citizen anyway,” Goodlett said. “Some of the dealings I’ve had personally with the coroner’s office have been good, but I think we can do better. I want to be a coroner that cares about not just how the families are treated, but also the cause of death and how that is investigated and make sure we get it right.”
“I wanted a good way to give back to the community,” Conway said. “It’s one way I can set up and get the next generation into politics.”
Conway said he feels he is better for the position than Goodlett because of his training. He said he is a certified paramedic, fire investigator and fire officer.
Goodlett feels he is better qualified, since he served on the Charlestown City Council from 2008-2011. He said he has several firefighter certifications and is a nationally registered paramedic. He cited his work experience as helping prepare him for the position, saying he was an EMT since 1991, paramedic since 1997 and firefighter (volunteer and career) since 1985.
Goodlett also said if elected, he hopes to make some updates to the position, such as moving the records to a secure place, like the government building.
Todd Caufield, 37, is seeking to oust incumbent Leslie Knable, 49, in the Floyd County Democratic Party primary May 8 and face off with the lone Republican, Thomas Sonne, in the November election.
“I enjoy working with the public and have been in public service all my life,” Caufield said, adding that he is a firefighter/paramedic for the New Albany Fire Department.
He said his experience in that field plus being a registered EMT makes him qualified for the position.
Knable, a veterinarian, also is a certified medical legal death investigator. She said her education includes: bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and funeral services from Purdue University and Mid-America College, doctorate in veterinary medicine from Purdue University and licenses as a funeral director and grief counselor. Knable took office in 2009 and is seeking a second term.
“I know what the job is. I’ve done it for four years. I know how to get it done. I know the emotional investment,” she said.
Knable said she makes the coroner position her full-time job, taking as much time on the scene as necessary to help families or work on investigations. She said she has investigated more than 750 deaths personally and has been on the seen for all but 30 of those.
“I feel like the people are electing me and not my deputies,” she said.
Caufield said he hopes to make the office more efficient.
“I want to speed the process up for filing death certificates, so the survivors can get their benefits more quickly,” he said.
Knable said during her time she has switched the office over from the hand-delivered system to an electronic system to speed the process up.
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