Deputy Chief Coroner, Sheriff’s wife face off at Bingham Coroner Primary
BLACKFOOT — Nick Hirschi, who was chosen to serve as coroner for Bingham County in 2019, will not be running for office. Instead, the current deputy chief coroner will face the sheriff’s wife in the Republican primary.
Jimmy Roberts will face Lisa Rowland in the primary, with no Democratic challenger pending in the overall.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to both candidates, only receiving responses from Roberts. Their answers below had to be 250 words or less. We’ll add Rowland’s answers if she comes back to us.
The primary election will take place on May 17. The general election will take place on November 8.
Tell us about yourself – include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any previous public service experience.
ROBERTS: I was built in Blackfoot in 1966. I was adopted as a child and grew up on the east coast, however. I discovered my biological family in Blackfoot in 1990 and spent the next 29 years traveling to Bingham County several times a year to work with my family and finally returning to live here full time in 2019.
My father’s family moved to the Rose and Wapello areas in the late 19th century and raised cattle. My mother’s grandfather was Doc Mitchell, one of the first doctors who served the Blackfoot at the turn of the 20th century.
My wife and I have 4 children between us and 6 grandchildren with our youngest daughter living here and working at Blackfoot.
Although I have spent most of my career on Cape Cod, I have also been able to work in many large cities aspiring to increase my knowledge and experience. I attended several schools along the way including; Cape Cod Community College, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, St Louis School of Medicine and currently, North Dakota University. Spent my entire adult life as a civil servant as a paramedic, firefighter, US Navy Reserve as a Corpsman assigned to the USMC
Although I have never held elected office, I have had the public’s trust as the supervisor of an 80-member department that responds to more than 7,500 calls for service each year by managing and maintaining the fire response preparedness, advanced life support systems and water rescue capabilities. .
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your personal life or career?
ROBERTS: My wife and my family are what I am deeply proud of. We have two sons and two daughters and they are each unique and amazing in their respective ambitions and work. Of course, with that pride and joy, our grandchildren. Although we’re not as close as we’d like to be with them all on the east coast, we’re grateful that technology allows us to Facetime several times a week and it’s always wonderful to see them come visit our little ranchette and all our animals.
As for one of the proudest moments of my career, I would say there are many but most of them always trying to be part of the solution in whatever situation I find myself in. I am very proud to currently be the Deputy Chief Coroner for Bingham County.
Working most of my career with the Yarmouth Fire Department on Cape Cod as an EMS and Fire Training Supervisor, I oversaw all operational aspects of the department and maintained training standards as well as fiscal accountability. never going over budget during my 8 year tenure in this position. I have also been successful in securing grants for several consecutive years to help our community respond to the opioid crisis through enhanced first responder training, mental health initiatives, and community outreach activities.
Why are you a member of the Republican/Democratic/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
ROBERTS: I am proud to be a member of the Republican Party because I believe this party holds and upholds the values I relate to most. I believe in fiscal responsibility and valuing hard work as well as the family values that have been a cornerstone of our American way of life.
My goal is to elevate the professional expertise of the Bingham County Coroner’s Office into the 21st century by achieving and maintaining the national standards set by the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, so that every citizen in our community can be assured that when a loved one dies, the highest standard of death investigation will be conducted on their behalf.
Please explain the role and responsibilities of the position you are applying for?
ROBERTS: The county coroner is responsible for responding to and investigating every death that occurs in the county as a result of violence, whether by homicide, accident, or suicide; which may have occurred under suspicious circumstances; death of a stillborn child with no known medical condition to explain the stillbirth; the death of a person under the age of 18, unless under the care of a physician and the death was due to natural causes; any unexpected death of a person not attended by a doctor; any death of a person admitted to a hospital without reaction and who does not regain consciousness before death; and any death whose cause is undetermined.
The coroner is responsible for conducting full and adequate examinations of deceased persons and for ordering and attending autopsies if necessary to determine the cause of death; work closely with the district attorney’s office and law enforcement when needed, as well as provide regular detailed reports to county commissioners on office operations and compile accurate records of all death investigations conducted in the county. Identifying and notifying the next of kin of a deceased and helping that family navigate the terrain of the post-death process, ensuring emotional support is in place, funeral homes are contacted and communicate with companies often and follow up on time, manner and cause of death as well as review autopsy and toxicology results and provide a death certificate in a timely manner.
What are the biggest challenges facing your country
ROBERTS: For the Bingham County Coroner’s Office, the biggest challenges are:
1. Bring the investigative standards of the office up to current national standards, obtain certification from the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, and provide adequate training and compensation to deputies who are expected to meet these standards
2. Prepare our office infrastructure to meet the demands of not only the county’s current population, but also the projected increase in population reflecting the growth we will continue to experience.
3. Bring the office up to IACME certification level so that our county is eligible for a grant, which will keep our citizens from bearing the financial burden of the task. The disparity of coroner systems across the country is well known, but with focus and determination, we can and will ensure our citizens have the best services available to their families.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents, even those with different political views?
ROBERTS: My representation of the constituents of this county is and will be unbiased as the coroner’s position should not be so prejudiced with respect to services rendered. My conservative values and principles will be reflected in my fiscal responsibilities with taxpayers’ money and in how the office is run for the benefit of all our citizens.
How can you encourage or improve relationships with cities and other municipal or educational entities in your jurisdiction?
ROBERTS: As the current Deputy Chief Coroner, I already participate in interagency training providing vital information to law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical service providers in our county on how to intervene at death scenes and I will continue this ongoing effort.
I have had tremendous experience working at local, regional, state and national levels in the past to improve standards and data collection as a fire and EMS provider and am currently a member of the ethics committee of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners and have working relationships with members of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the Board of Directors of the National Homicide Investigators Association, members of the National Standards Institute and technology; Organization of the Committee for the scientific field of forensic sciences; Members of the Forensic Death Investigation Subcommittee.
I will also create engagement with the community to address suicide prevention as well as increase access to mental health and bereavement resources for our citizens.
Another goal is to provide internships for death investigation students under the model that the Ada County Coroner has instituted. By providing insight into a well-run death investigation office, we can encourage our young people to become the investigators of the future and fulfill this vital function in their own communities. The coroner’s office is an integral part of the public health system and, through quality forensic death investigation, can provide vital health information to families who may be susceptible to certain diseases or genetic abnormalities, and identify potential threats to public health.
What are your views on local and national media organizations. As an elected official, how would you work with the media to help inform the public?
ROBERTS: Today, our fellow citizens receive information from so many different angles, from social media to national and international news sources. I believe it is more important than ever to foster and maintain a positive and transparent working relationship with local and national media within the legal parameters of the office.
Given the sensitive nature of death investigations, it is important to release the information necessary to respect the families of the deceased and public safety. That being said, I consider local and state news media to be incredibly important to a free society. Without local journalists to follow important events in our county, region and state, we risk having less than honorable or ethical acts and systems that infect our society and lead us to higher levels of division instead of justice. ‘unity.