Summit County Commissioners open coroner job to applicants |

Summit County Commissioners open coroner job to applicants

Caddie Nath
summit daily news

On the heels of Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson’s announcement that she will resign her post in September, Summit County commissioners are giving local residents a shot at the job.

“It’s important,” Commissioner Dan Gibbs said of the open interview process. “You never know who in the community might want to step up and be the next coroner.”

The commissioners have 10 days from Richardson’s last day on the job, Sept. 14, to fill the position.

Officials will advertise the vacancy and interview candidates before making a selection.

Qualifications for the position of coroner under Colorado law are fairly loose, simply requiring that the individual be a resident of the county, at least 21 years old and a registered electorate, but the commissioners say they’re looking for more than that.

“It’s a delicate balance of skills,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “The actual medical skills certainly are important, but also this ability to work with families in a professional and compassionate manner.”

The coroner is normally an elected position, but Richardson waited to announce her departure until after the deadline for candidates to get their names on the ballot to avoid an election.

In lieu of a vote of the people, the county commissioners will appoint an interim candidate to hold the office for two years. That individual will have the option to run for election in 2014.

The coroner is responsible for death investigations in Summit County and determines the cause and manner of each death.

The position pays $44,000 a year.

Richardson left the commissioners with a recommendation for her replacement, but they said they wanted to follow the county’s tradition of opening the process to other interested candidates.

Current Sheriff John Minor was an applicant who came forward in an open interview process after former Sheriff Joe Morales departed the office.

“I think we’d be shortsighted to not look at the possibility of who might come forward,” Gibbs said. “It’s important for us to do our due diligence.”

Richardson has been the coroner for the last 10 years.

She is stepping down to join her husband in Basalt.

“I love Summit County, but want more time with my family,” Richardson stated in a recent open letter to Summit citizens announcing her departure. “It is simply time for me to move on.”

Richardson stated she had been training her staff to handle the administrative aspects of the job in her absence.

Richardson has a master’s degree in forensic science and investigations and a master’s certificate in grief and bereavement counseling.

The Summit County Coroner’s Office handles roughly 50-70 cases a year.

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