Summit County coroner resigns post |

Summit County coroner resigns post

Caddie Nath
summit daily news
Special to the DailyJoanne Richardson

Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson announced plans to resign her post Monday, timing the announcement to avoid an election for her replacement.

The last day for potential coroner candidates to get their names on the November ballot was Friday, according to election officials.

Richardson said she has been planning to step down for months to join her husband in Basalt, but waited until Monday to officially resign so the job of selecting her successor would be in the hands of the Summit County commissioners rather than the voters.

In an open letter to the citizens of Summit County, Richardson said she intends to leave the coroner’s office with someone experienced in her place and that the timing of her announcement means “an election will not be necessary.”

“I was afraid we would get too many CSI wannabes coming out of the woodwork,” Richardson said of her decision. “That way my successor has two years to prove themselves and if the citizens are happy with them, then my successor may get elected or somebody else may move in. At that point, it’s out of my control.”

Richardson’s last day is set to be Sept. 14. She has been the coroner for the last 10 years.

The Summit Board of County Commissioners is charged with appointing a new coroner, who will serve a two-year term until the 2014 general election.

Commissioners said they have not yet discussed the appointment or how the selection will be made.

Richardson said she resigned with “mixed feelings,” and found it difficult to leave a position that had defined her for so long.

“I love Summit County, but want more time with my family,” she stated in the letter. “It is simply time for me to move on.”

The coroner is responsible for investigating fatalities and determining the cause and manner of each death, but is not required by law to have any medical or law-enforcement training to run for office.

Richardson has been training her staff to deal with the administrative aspects of the job and said she does have an individual in mind to take over in her absence.

“The citizens of Summit County deserve an experienced investigator and one who is used to dealing with death,” she stated. “Virtually anyone is ‘qualified’ to be coroner under the law. … I don’t expect anyone to ‘be me’ or to ‘fill my shoes’ but I hope that my successor will continue to move forward and do what is needed to meet and exceed the standards I set.”

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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