Vail Daily letter: Bettis for coroner |

Vail Daily letter: Bettis for coroner

Our coroner’s election raises an issue: Whether the selection process should be political or based on expertise. The coroner makes no political decisions and does not depend on any political organization to do the job. This is one of the few elected offices where politics should not be the deciding factor.

But this year’s Eagle County coroner’s election is becoming politicized. It appears important, to some, to fill county positions with officials based upon their association with a political party. When “non-issues” become the focus of attention, we might consider returning to the real issues.

The “non-issue” is the Donor Alliance. During the debate between the candidates, the challenger seemed to focus upon the organ donor business instead of the required duties of the coroner. Also, the challenger failed to recognize that there are precise conditions, such as time of death and condition of the deceased, that must be verified before the coroner can release any donor material.

The truth is that our coroner, Kara Bettis, has always released donor material when all the legal, medical and family conditions are met. Like other coroners, she releases all donations through the hospitals where the organs and tissue are properly removed and preserved.

Perhaps voters will consider the actual duties of the coroner and the distinct differences in experience and qualifications of the candidates, rather than misleading non-issues.

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The coroner is required by Colorado statute to:

• Determine the cause of death.

• Positively identify the body.

• Notify next of kin.

• Issue a proper death certificate. See, Section 30-10-606, C.R.S.

The coroner must be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She must take immediate command of the most horrific and tragic scenes, keep her composure and methodically find the cause and identity. The coroner must deduce if deaths were sudden, violent, suspicious, suicide or criminal. She takes action if the death was caused by dangerous conditions or diseases that threaten the health of our community.

The coroner works with law enforcement, the district attorney and the media. At the same time, the coroner must notify and try to console family members who are understandably grief-stricken, angry and often inconsolable, while continuing to investigate and collect evidence. It takes a special person with unique abilities to do this job. Kara Bettis has the experience, skills, training and fortitude to serve the people of Eagle County.

Perhaps voters will consider the accomplishments of our Eagle County coroner over the past 12 years, plus four more as deputy coroner. The challenger quit the deputy coroner post. Kara Bettis is an experienced, proven professional. She has performed her duties impeccably in more than 750 cases. The decision for this office should be made upon ability, experience and knowledge, not “politics” or “non-issues.”

Erik Johnson


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