In the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Democrat incumbent Robert
Schulte and Republican Chuck Harris will vie for the office of Porter County
Coroner. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate
The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserved the right
to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.
Schulte: 39, Kouts, Valparaiso firefighter/paramedic.
Harris: I am 41 and live in Valparaiso. I am a licensed funeral director
for a local funeral home and also own C. Harris LLC. which operates rental
(2) Describe the Porter County Coronerís responsibilities. (75 words)
Schulte: The Office of the Coroner, as per Indiana state statute, is
charged with the determination of cause and manner of death in any person in
the county that has died by violence, by casualty, when in apparently in
good health, or has died in an apparently suspicious, unusual, or unnatural
Harris: The core responsibility of the Coronerís Office is to determine
the cause and manner of death of decedents under the Coronerís jurisdiction.
A second key element of the Coronerís responsibility is to identify the
(3) Describe your qualifications for the office, including whether you are a
state certified death inspector. (75 words)
Schulte: My extensive medical background in conjunction with my
education in criminal justice makes me the most qualified candidate. A
coroner must adequately investigate the circumstances surrounding
suspicious/unexplained deaths, and my IU education and certification as a
medico-legal death investigator make my qualifications stand out. A coroner
must also apply his/her medical knowledge to determine cause and manner of
death. As a paramedic, I am very knowledgeable in the pathophysiology of
Harris: I hold certification by the State of Indiana as a medico-legal
death investigator and have held that license since the state started
requiring the certification. I also have over six years of experience as a
deputy coroner for Porter County. I also hold a certification from FEMA for
their National Response Plan. I graduated from Ball State University with a
bachelorís degree in biology and then graduated from Worsham College of
(4) To Schulte: Why are you seeking re-election to the office? (75
I hope to be elected to my own term as Porter County Coroner because I know
that I have efficiently, accurately, and compassionately performed my duties
since taking office on March 1. I have made improvements to many systems
that are currently in place in the Coronerís Office and hope to be able to
continue to work hard for the citizens of Porter County.
To Harris: Why are you seeking election to the office? (75 words)
I have considerable experience for the office. Further, I envision using
this experience to help fight the rising drug influence in our county. A
study commissioned by Porter Starke found that our county was 321 percent
above the national average for heroin related ER visits, clearly showing a
problem I feel the Coronerís Office could at least attempt to help combat.
(5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why you believe
yourself a better candidate. (125 words)
Schulte: I believe that I am the best candidate because of my medical
and investigative background. I have dedicated my life to public service
with my career as a firefighter/paramedic. My high moral and ethical
standards also make me the best candidate.
Harris: First and foremost, I am a licensed medico-legal death
investigator and have six years of experience in the office. I also have 14
years of experience working as a funeral director which is a great benefit
when dealing with the families of the deceased. Most of the deaths that the
Coroner deals with are sudden and unexpected and leave the families in a
state of distress; I believe that my years of experience as a funeral
director help me deal with the decedentís family.
(6) What are the key issues in the race? (125 words)
Schulte: The main issue in the race for Coroner is selecting the most
Harris: I believe there are three key issues to the Coronerís race.
First, I believe that the county has a silent epidemic with the heroin
related deaths and honestly believe the Coronerís Office could have an
effective role in combating this problem. Secondly, autopsies in the county
are currently not being performed on a daily basis as they were in years
past, causing problems with the decedentís family who are making funeral
arrangements for their family member. For instance, if a death occurs at 11
a.m. on a Friday the autopsy will not be done until Monday, leaving the body
to sit unattended for several days. Lastly, the number of ďpendingĒ death
certificates causes duplicate paperwork and delays for families attempting
to make insurance claims.
(7) If elected, do you anticipate making staffing changes in the Coronerís
Office? Why or why not? (50 words)
Schulte: I would retain all staff members, who are all very qualified
staff. We currently have professionals who work daily in the police, fire,
EMS, nursing, and education fields, whose broad base of experience adds
different insight to the office. All staff members are also Indiana
certified medico-legal death investigators.
Harris: I believe that all good leadership comes with an honest and fair
assessment of oneís surroundings. With that being said, I would need to
interview all the current staff before making any staffing decisions.
(8) Do you regularly attend meetings of the Porter County Council and Porter
County Commissioners? Why or why not? (50 words)
Schulte: I do not currently attend every Council and Commissioner
meeting. I attend only those meetings that pertain to the Office of the
Harris: I currently do not regularly attend Porter County Council or
Porter County Commissioner meetings because my current position and past
positions have not required me to do so.