Friday, October 1, 2010
The Walla Walla Valley is in my blood. I graduated from Wa-Hi, and I'm the fifth generation of my family to live in the Valley. My great-great-grandfather, Steven Derrick, was an Indian fighter at Fort Walla Walla.
Even though I now live in Dayton, I have worked for the same Walla Walla institution for 30 years and I own two homes in Walla Walla, so I pay Walla Walla property taxes.
I care what happens to Walla Walla County. Anyone can run for county coroner, but only one candidate, Virginia Romine, is qualified and prepared to do a good job if elected. A check of the 39 counties around the state proves what background a coroner needs. State law provides for death investigation based upon the size of the county.
The six counties in Washington with populations over 250,000 people have medical examiners, all licensed medical doctors. Those counties are Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Whatcom.
The 17 counties with populations below 40,000 have ex-officio coroners who are their prosecuting attorneys. They are lawyers trained in rules of evidence, reading legal documents including medical records, and capable of calling and functioning at inquests, which coroners do. Those counties are Adams, Asotin, Clallum, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Garfield, Jefferson, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pacific, Pend Oreille, San Juan, Skamania and Wahkiakum.
The 16 counties with populations between 40,000 and 250,000 are required to elect a coroner. Of those, seven counties have coroners who were elected with extensive law enforcement experience (Benton, Cowlitz, Grant, Grays Habor, Kitsap, Mason and Yakima). Three counties have very experienced registered nurses as coroners (Skagit, Stevens and Walla Walla). Two have physicians' assistants (Lewis and Thurston). One (Island County) has a veterinarian (meaning trained in specimen collection and surgery). One has a death investigator who worked for a prosecutor before being elected coroner (Franklin). So all were experienced in health care or law enforcement before being elected.
It is my understanding the new coroner takes over in Walla Walla County Jan. 3 There is a training for newly elected county officials in Olympia in December. The coroner's training portion lasts one day.
Only Romine will already know how to deal with grief-stricken families, handle specimens, accurately process death certificates and determine need for autopsies. Virginia has the education, experience and professionalism to do this job right. Please vote for her.