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
set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of
Valparaiso; I am currently a security director, Porter County Deputy
Coroner, and CEO of my security company.
Valparaiso; employed at Porter Regional Hospital as a certified histology
technician in the Pathology Department.
(2) Describe the
Porter County Coronerís responsibilities (75 words).
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe yourself to be a
better candidate (125 words).
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.