Opinion | Linda Harmon: Summit County Dems made the right choice | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Linda Harmon: Summit County Dems made the right choice

Linda Harmon
Positive Progressive Thinking

I would like to begin this column by congratulating a very-talented and highly-qualified candidate for Summit County corner: Democrat Amber Flenniken. This Summit County health care veteran has earned the Democratic nomination for Summit County corner. She has worked for 15 years throughout health care in Summit County, including at St. Anthony Summit Hospital in critical care and the pediatric unit in addition to our county ambulance service.

Why am I so passionate about this nomination? First Flenniken is the most qualified candidate to seek this elected position in years. She has served as the chief deputy corner since 2019 and has worked on more than 300 cases.

Many Summit County residents do not realize the very important role the county corner’s office plays in the lives of those they love and care about. In the event of a sudden, unattended or unexpected death, the corner’s office is one of the first to respond to tragic occurrences. It is this elected official who typically deals directly with individuals and families when an unexpected death happens. They investigate the death, make a positive identification of the decreased, notify the next of kin and investigate the scene of the death. Should the death be caused by a crime committed against the deceased, the coroner can be a big part of the reason for finding the killer guilty.

I know if one of my loved ones dies unexpectedly, I would want a qualified, caring corner in charge of finding the answers about the death. Flenniken is the right person for the job, especially with her tremendous training and background. Besides being a certified death investigator with the Colorado Coroner’s Association, she has completed numerous courses on forensic pathology with the American Heart Association and has her mental health first aid certification.

Besides her experience and education, what stands out the most about Flenniken is her compassion. Many of the families who have had the unexpected and devastating experience of losing a loved one in Summit County have publicly expressed how special Flenniken truly is.

Bailey Jefferson wrote this on her site: “I’m not usually one to post about ‘politics.’ It seems wild to me that a position like county corner has to even involve politics. Let’s be honest, the Grim Reaper could not possibly care less about politics. … Amber Flenniken should absolutely be county corner. … She’ll serve our community in the loving, professional and profoundly compassionate way that she handled the previous cases involving my friends and of course my dad.”

Shannon Fausel worked for Flenniken as a deputy coroner, and she reinforced how passionate Flenniken is about being a coroner. “Amber is passionate about her job. She truly enjoys her work. She wants to be there. Even when she was on vacation, she would always answer the phone if we needed to talk to her.” Fausel went on to say that under Flenniken’s leadership, the systems in the office greatly improved, which has made it easier for everyone including the families.

Unfortunately, Flenniken hasn’t been immune from political maneuvering. Flenniken said she was forced to resign a few months ago after she told the current county coroner — Regan Wood, who was elected as a Republican in 2015 — that she would be running for the office of county coroner.

“I was under the impression that Wood was not going to run again, but she decided to pursue reelection, and she switched political parties, so we would be running against each other,” Flenniken said.

Since Wood changed her party affiliation to Democrat in 2021, Flenniken and Wood were in a primary for the Democrat nomination. This ended at the Democratic Party assembly March 5, when the Summit County Democrats handily voted for Flenniken to be their candidate. Wood did not receive enough votes to be on the ballot. She received only 27% of the votes.

Flenniken was expecting to battle with Wood until the June primary election. Thankfully, Summit County Democrats made the right choice by selecting Flenniken.

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