Chesterton Tribune



Dale Bagnall and Randy Wilkening seek Democrat nomination for Coroner

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In the primary election on Tuesday, May 8, Dale Bagnall and Randy Wilkening will vie for the Democrat nomination for the open position of Porter County Coroner. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to a candidate questionnaire.

The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.

(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.

Bagnall: 67; Porter Township; I have worked the past three years as Deputy Coroner and the past 11 years part-time at Moellerís Funeral Home.

Wilkening: 53; Portage; Iím a Firefighter/Paramedic with Portage Fire Department with current rank of captain.

(2) Describe the Porter County Coronerís responsibilities (75 words).

Bagnall: The Coronerís Office takes care of the deceased and notification to the family to make necessary arrangements. The office also provides and assists the order of events to follow.

Wilkening: The Coroner is responsible to make sure death certificates are filed properly, determine when or if an autopsy is needed, and to make sure deaths are investigated thoroughly and properly. The Coroner should also work with law enforcement and emergency responders and take an active role in the education of death prevention.

(3) Describe your qualifications for office. Are you a state-certified death inspector? (75 words)

Bagnall: I am a state-certified medicolegal death investigator. I am the only experienced candidate with over three yearsí experience and currently working for the office.

Wilkening: I have been a Paramedic for 30 plus years, SWAT team medic for 19 years, reserve police officer, and worked in a funeral home. I have not taken the one-week death investigators class but I have had numerous classes in infant death investigation, drug abuse awareness and prevention, crime scene preservation and investigation, and numerous medical, safety, and law enforcement classes. I also have administrative experience being a past fire chief.

(4) Why are you seeking election to the Office of Coroner? (75 words)

Bagnall: I want to carry my experience over as a current Deputy Coroner and past business owner to benefit the county. I will be available as your hands-on, full-time Coroner.

Wilkening: During my 30-year career, I have experienced death from the medical side, law enforcement side, and funeral home side. I feel my training and years of experience have prepared me to be Coroner. I also feel my experience as an instructor, administrator, and my involvement with many community organizations will help move the Coronerís Office forward in the area of death education and prevention.

(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself to be a better candidate (125 words).

Bagnall: I am already certified and the only experienced candidate with over three years and currently working as a deputy coroner. I have leadership skills after owning my own business, Indiana Furniture, for over 30 years.

Wilkening: I feel I have an advantage over the other candidates because I have been one of the first to arrive on many death scenes having to determine when and if the Coroner needs to be called and then securing and preserving the scene for an investigation. I have been on numerous multi-casualty scenes including two South Shore train accidents and the Beta Steel explosion. My experience in the medical, law enforcement, and funeral home fields allow me to understand all sides of a death investigation. My experience as an administrator with the Portage and South Haven Fire Departments also helps me to understand government finance and budgets.

(6) What are the key issues in this race? (100 words)

Bagnall: Re-invigorate interaction between government agencies and client families. Long-range we need to pursue an independent facility for coroner department.

Wilkening: Making sure the Coronerís Office is run efficiently is first. The main focus in the race is death education. The opioid crisis is at epidemic proportions in Porter County and I have an advantage because of my unique experience and qualifications. I have helped combat and educate people about drugs from the crack cocaine problem to the methamphetamine problem and now the opioid epidemic. I have also been on numerous overdose scenes and given Narcan and have seen the first hand-effects. There is also a need to educate on the growing number of infant deaths due to unsafe sleep.

(7) Do you anticipate making any staffing changes in the Coronerís Office? (50 words)

Bagnall: No. Chuck Harris has a really good staff and everyone works together well.

Wilkening: I do not anticipate any staffing changes initially until I have had time to evaluate the office.

(8) The Office of Coroner requires its holder to be available at any time to respond to a death scene. How would you strike a balance between your occupation and the demands of the office? (50 words)

Bagnall: I am retired and I hold no full-time job, so I can be available at any time to respond to a death scene.

Wilkening: If the Coroner needs to respond, my colleagues will come in for me at a momentís notice so I can go. There will be situations when Iím one of the first at a death scene. I also have a unique schedule that can be flexible when the need arises.


Posted 4/12/2018




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