Chesterton Tribune



Thomas Ampeliotis and Cyndi Dykes seek Republican nomination for Coroner

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In the primary election on Tuesday, May 8, Thomas Ampeliotis and Cyndi Dykes will vie for the Republican 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.

Ampeliotis: 44; Valparaiso; I am currently a security director, Porter County Deputy Coroner, and CEO of my security company.

Dykes: 57; Valparaiso; employed at Porter Regional Hospital as a certified histology technician in the Pathology Department.

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

Ampeliotis: The Porter County Coroner is responsible for determining the manners and causes of death, often by performing autopsies. During autopsies, coroners inspect the body of a deceased person to identify marks or other evidence that indicates how he or she died. The Coroner goes to death scenes, identifies human remains, supervises the transportation of corpses, operates crime scene equipment, completes death certificates, notifies next of kin, and manages the daily operations of the office.

Dykes: A usually elected public officer who is typically not required to have specific medical qualifications and whose principal duty is to inquire by an inquest into the cause of any death which there is reason to suppose is not due to natural causes.

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

Ampeliotis: I have been a Deputy Coroner for several years with the Porter County Coroner's Office and I have the required medicolegal death investigator training and certification that allows me to investigate any death that falls under the coronerís jurisdiction, including all suspicious, violent, unexplained, and unexpected deaths. Additionally, I have an MBA & MPA degree with significant experience in business ownership that will allow me to monitor the officeís budget and manage the deputies equitably.

Dykes: Iíve been a certified histology technician with the American Society for Clinical Pathology for 30 years which requires expertise in anatomy and physiology. In addition I have worked alongside past coroners and pathologists in assisting autopsies. Iíve had 30 years of funeral home experience which requires compassion, respect, and dignity for the deceased and their families. If elected to this position I will become state-certified before taking my oath of office.

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

Ampeliotis: I am seeking the Office of Porter County Coroner because I want to continue the progress that the incumbent, Chuck Harris, started with drug and suicide prevention and awareness programs as well as continue the leadership that is necessary to respond to many current issues that the Porter County Coroner's Office is facing.

Dykes: I want to be able to ďSpeak for the DeadĒ by investigating and determining the cause of death, particularly that occur under unusual circumstances. A coroner needs to set high standards for quality service, provide care and consolation to families in times of need, and lead a team of experts to find the cause and manner of each death.

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

Ampeliotis: I am the best candidate for the position as I have the experience of actually doing the job, education, qualifications, and resources to meet the challenges of the Porter County Coroner's Office. This is a very difficult and demanding position that requires someone with a sense of urgency and a proven track record of managing people and processes so there is immediate guidance and resources from training, policy and procedure, and standard work so that the community and law enforcement can have a professional response and investigation.

Dykes: I am a woman with strong family values and the utmost respect for the citizens of Porter County. I have been a resident of Porter County for over 45 years and raised my children here along with my husband, Ed Dykes, of 33 years. I feel at this time I need to give back to my community and county that has been so good to me. With my experiences in pathology and the funeral home, I feel I am the best candidate to continue the high standards and professionalism of the Coronerís Office with integrity, respect, and compassion.

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

Ampeliotis: Addressing the opioid/heroin epidemic has to be our top priority. I want to continue the outreach programs in the schools and jail that I am currently performing. In addition, the Coroner's Office has run out of storage room for our records, which need to be digitized. I also want to work with the Sheriff in conjunction with the new Senate Bill 139 authorizing the arrest of those who sell controlled substances to individuals that result in death. This is a significant new power to fight the opioid epidemic but will require additional funds for the Coronerís Office.

Dykes: First and foremost the Coronerís Office should continue to be part of the prevention programs to help avoid unnecessary deaths. The Coronerís Office needs to address the issue of toxicology, and find a way to save money for the county and have faster results for families pursuing insurance, estate, and other financial matters. Chain-of-command is critical to protect the deceased and their families. Lastly, pertinent information that is passed between the Coroner, first-responders, law enforcement agencies, and pathologists should be top priority.

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

Ampeliotis: No, I will not make changes to the staff.

Dykes: At this time I feel that all of the Deputy Coroners are highly qualified.

(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)

Ampeliotis: The Porter County Coroner's Office has a strong department of well-trained Deputy Coroners and a Deputy Chief Coroner that are scheduled on 12-hour shifts daily. I have the flexibility in my position to respond 24/7 and I will also be on the schedule.

Dykes: I work full-time at Porter Regional Hospital, but with my job description I will have the ability to be involved in postmortem investigations when needed. The coronerís office has deputy coronerís who all have on call schedules to divide up the work load.



Posted 4/12/2018




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