Newton in, Yancey out in Lake County Coroner primaries
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:39PM
Two doctors were running for the position of coroner, but only one made it.
Incumbent Coroner Democrat Artis Yancey of Waukegan led early, but then lost ground to Dr. Thomas Rudd of Lake Forest and on the Republican side Steve Newton, a former chief deputy coroner Steve Newton won over Dr. Howard Cooper of Bannockburn.
Rudd said he won the election the old fashioned way. “I used shoe leather and the U.S. Post Office,” he said. Rudd had 53 percent of the vote (9,058 votes) to Yancey’s 47 percent (8,146 votes) in the unofficial results.
“I had a lot of help from average people, a kid just out of school, an unemployed woman from North Chicago,” he said. “Hopefully we can change the atmosphere at that office,” he said.
One of the things that helped his election was a simple two-page letter explaining who he was and what he wanted to do. “I wrote it plain enough that anyone could understand,” he said, handing them out at train stations and mailing a target group of Democrats that had voted in the primary and general election for the past three election cycles. He also used dome post card mailings.
“When I’d go back to the train station and check I didn’t find my letter all over the place in the garbage. That said something to me,” he said.
Rudd, 65, feels the accreditation issue if the biggest problem and he would push the office toward becoming a medical examiner’s office, which is an appointed position. “If we remove the office from politics we could save some money,” he said. “This office has never been run by a pathologist,” said the retired physician and surgeon.
He believes all the deputy corners need to be certified and while Yancey said he going to do it, “they’ve yet to file an application,” said Rudd, who once ran unsuccessfully for North Shore Sanitary District trustee. He is board certified in pathology and nuclear medicine.
In the Republican primary Newton, of unincorporated Antioch, won with 55 percent (20,227 votes) to Cooper’s 45 percent (16,609 votes) in the unofficial results.
“It feels great. I think the voters voiced their opinion on the experience versus the doctor thing,” said Newton. “I stand on my experience as well as the integrity and compassion of the office,” he said.
Newton, 38, currently works as a court security officer in Lake County. He was chief deputy coroner until former coroner Dr. Richard Keller forced him out for inappropriate relationship with a fellow worker, who is now his wife.
He said after he left the office they “totally disregarded policies. It was upsetting to me because we worked so hard on doing it right,” he said. Newton said the lack of service to family members of the dead is lacking, such as not allowing funeral directors to pick up a body over the weekend so family members could plan the service.
“I’m looking forward to the general election. Hopefully we can run on an issue based campaign, at least that’s our plan,” he said.