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Countywide Kane candidates face off in forum

Bob Russell Tao Martinez

Bob Russell and Tao Martinez

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Updated: November 16, 2012 6:12AM

The candidates for Kane County Coroner touted their experience for the office during a candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County last week.

Democrat Tao Martinez of North Aurora founded a company which helps with cleanups at death scenes and Republican Robert Russell of Elgin is a sergeant with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.

Martinez said he is certified to assist coroners, medical examiners and law enforcement in five states. Russell said in his 20 years in law enforcement he conducted numerous death investigations and he is a certified homicide investigator.

As to the question of bringing integrity back to the office — previous Coroner Chuck West was facing felony charges when he died — Russell suggested safeguards through outside accreditation associations, while Martinez said he would conduct an assessment of the operations.

“Within our elder community, there may be cases falling through the cracks. It is our responsibility to respond to all cases, not just homicides and suicides,” Martinez said.

“The problem had been with the previous leader,” Russell said. “I have no reason to believe the procedures are not working well, especially with hospice.”

Russell said when there is a death in a hospice center, the coroner’s office is informed and if there is any suspicions the deputy coroner will conduct a death investigation.

“There are safeguards in place,” Russell said.

“Are we going to trust everybody over the phone to tell us what to do and how to conduct our investigations? I do believe there are hospice cases falling through the cracks in other counties attributed to negligence and abuse. All of that is the responsibility of the coroner’s office to investigate,” Martinez said.

Clerk, recorder

The candidates for Kane County Circuit Clerk faced-off during the same candidates forum by touting their experience and plans for the office. Republican Tom Hartwell of Elgin is a lawyer and Democrat Ed Nendick of Aurora is a businessman.

Nendick proposed saving taxpayer dollars by cooperating with the circuit clerk’s office in DuPage County that has a system in place he said would transition for Kane County’s needs.

Hartwell an assessment of the computer systems and personnel before changes are made, adding the placement of staff at multiple locations needs to be evaluated in order to assess efficiencies.

The candidates for Kane County Recorder of Deeds also spoke to an audience of voters. Democrat Brenda Rodgers, an Elgin realtor, said taxpayers deserve someone who will provide “value” to the office. Rodgers proposed hosting evening educational seminars for residents.

“This is our fourth debate and this is the first one my opponent showed up to debate me,” Rodgers said.

Incumbent Republican Sandy Wegman of Elgin did not dispute this was the first debate she has attended. Wegman, the recorder since 2000, said it is a land records office and technology advances were made under her supervision to make document searches easier for those who come for services.

“I have a perfect track record of running an office that is efficient, friendly and technologically advanced,” Wegman said.

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