Voters to decide on county coroner position

By Paul Kirk

Although the position of county coroner is not often affiliated with a general election, the people will decide who fills it.

Nine-year incumbent Dennis Miller is running against opponent Fay Allen for the DeKalb County Coroner position. Allen, 45, said she thinks her qualifications as nurse make her more suited to the administrative position of coroner than Miller.

Miller, 35, disagrees with his opponent. He said Allen doesn’t understand the duties and responsibilities which go into being coroner.

“The coroner documents the cause of death. The coroner’s jury determines the manner of death. A pathologist must do autopsies. I am not a pathologist, and neither is my opponent, but I only use forensic pathologists in my investigations,” Miller said.

The position of coroner is an administrative position in DeKalb County, and it is not necessary for the coroner to be a doctor or a pathologist.

However, Allen said it is very difficult to do the job with no knowledge of the subject matter. “It’s very difficult to examine the cause of death if you don’t have the experience in the field,” Allen said.

She said she is better qualified in the health profession because she has worked as a nurse in hospitals. She currently works in the emergency room of Kishwaukee Hospital.

“I’ve had 25 years experience dealing with trauma and disease processes, 25 years experience with grieving families and dying patients,” Allen said.

However, Miller said that once a person is dead, nursing experience doesn’t matter much in the coroner profession. “My opponent is a very good nurse, but she doesn’t have the training or the experience I have,” he said.

Allen disagreed and said her experience and qualifications as a nurse suited her to the job of coroner. “Coroner is a logical progression from nurse,” she said. “I have the experience in the health profession to make me qualified.”

Miller has spent nine years as DeKalb County coroner and five years as a deputy coroner. He is a registered emergency medical technician in Sandwich.

Allen has been a nurse for 25 years and is a graduate of Rush-Presbyterian Hospital. She said she has worked in all areas of nursing and has spent 17 years in the emergency room. Allen said she has taught emergency medical technicians.