County coroner GOP primary preview election grid

Candidate Q&A and bios in attached breakout for grid. 

 

Grid Ronald W. Shadley

In cases of questionable suicides where life insurance is involved, coroners can feel divided between their legal duties and a moral compassion for grieving family members. How would you balance this?

A refined mix of compassion for individuals involved along with the legal responsibilities of the office is required. The office is mandated to scrutinize every case utilizing forensics, legal knowledge, skills, compassion and understanding to be woven into each case for the duties and decisions to remain professional and ethical.

Do you believe coroner should remain an elected office, or should the position be appointed based on knowledge and experience?

The office of coroner should remain an elected position allowing the voting population to choose the candidate of their choice based on the candidate’s background, experience and dedication to the office that they seek to fill and to eliminate complacency and instill confidence in the office.

There have been news reports of bodies in Indiana being misidentified by coroners. What steps would you take to avoid this from happening in Bartholomew County?

This would be prevented by exhausting every possible resource for identification. With the forensic technology that is readily available for difficult cases, and with qualified personnel with extensive training, the percentage of possible incorrect rulings would be minimal.

What do you see as the most important skills a coroner should possess?

A coroner must not only possess strong investigative skills, be well versed in forensics, death scenes, causes and manner, but also have a strong working relationship with other agencies involved. The coroner must have unique people skills, with compassion and care for each individual situation, maintaining ethical and moral values.

Is there a point when an elected coroner can delegate too much of his or her responsibilities to a deputy coroner? Please explain.

No. If all the appointed deputies are competent, confident and dependable, each will understand all the new or updated policies and procedures I will institute. It is not about the office holder, it is about the integrity and consistency of office.

Grid Clayton R. Nolting

In cases of questionable suicides where life insurance is involved, coroners can feel divided between their legal duties and a moral compassion for grieving family members. How would you balance this?

The job of a death investigator is to find and report the truth and to work with families. Part of the purpose of truthfully investigating and documenting deaths is to help guide public policy on important issues such as mental health needs, drug use and general health education.

Do you believe coroner should remain an elected office, or should the position be appointed based on knowledge and experience?

Both elected and appointed systems exist across the United States, and both have been criticized. The Indiana legislature has maintained the office of coroner as an elected position, thus voters make the appointment. Voters should study the candidates’ qualifications and elect the most knowledgeable and experienced candidate.

There have been news reports of bodies in Indiana being misidentified by coroners. What steps would you take to avoid this from happening in Bartholomew County?

While extremely rare, the misidentification of a body causes needless pain for many. When proper protocols are followed, it is nearly impossible to misidentify a body. All deputy coroners in Bartholomew County will be properly trained on methods of properly identifying the deceased.

What do you see as the most important skills a coroner should possess?

Some of the most important skills required of a coroner are leadership, critical thinking and effective communication. The coroner must work with individuals from many different backgrounds and deliver the same service to all. But beyond these skills, a coroner must possess integrity, intelligence and compassion.

Is there a point when an elected coroner can delegate too much of his or her responsibilities to a deputy coroner? Please explain.

Deputy coroners – who must also be certified medico-legal death investigators – assist with round-the-clock coverage, 365 days a year. Indeed, their skills depend on being actively and regularly involved. A good coroner utilizes deputies as an extension of himself, but oversees all the work that reflects upon his elected office.

Clayton R. Nolting

Who: Clayton R. Nolting

Age: 31

Employment: Columbus police officer

Current office held: Deputy Bartholomew County coroner for five years, an appointed position

Other offices held: None

Family: Fiancee, Brelyn Critzer   

Ronald W. Shadley Sr.

Who: Ronald W. Shadley Sr.

Age: 60

Employment: Licensed funeral director for Myers-Reed Chapel, Hathaway-Myers Chapel and the Columbus Crematory; co-owner of Passing Pet Cremation Service in Newbern

Current office held: None

Past office held: Deputy coroner in Pike County, Indiana, 1977-78

Family:  Wife, Johanna; four sons 

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.