Teton County coroner: Deputy or doctor

By on August 13, 2014
Dr. Brent Blue

Dr. Brent Blue

The job of coroner involves very few silver linings but three people are asking for your vote to take the helm of death investigation services in Teton County.

Republican candidate Russell Nelson advances to the general election uncontested, while Democrats Deputy David Hodges and Doctor Brent Blue run against each other in the primaries.

In the political forum held at the Teton County Library Aug. 7, hopefuls for the Democratic coroner candidate chuckled when a panelist asked whether a Democrat or Republican makes a better coroner. Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense that this is a partisan race.

The differences in their platforms boil down to whether law enforcement experience or medical experience make for a better coroner.

Hodges has worked in the sheriff’s office for almost 20 years and serves as deputy coroner under the current Teton County coroner. He says the job of coroner involves mostly investigative police work, with the input of assisting medical professionals.

David Hodges

David Hodges

“I have real on-the-job police experience,” Hodges said. “I know how the office works, I have the endorsement of the current coroner, Kiley Campbell. If I were elected, the transition would be seamless and the public would not notice any hiccups at all.”

Hodges also noted that he is a viable choice because it takes a certain sensitivity to break the news of death to family and relatives. He said he has this experience from his law enforcement background.

Blue, on the other hand, stressed some of the skills he has accrued as a medical professional discovering what ails his patients. “I never know what’s wrong with a patient when they walk into my clinic,” he said.

While a medical background is not required for the job, Blue argued that medical experience saves the county time and money. “In the example of the body that was found in Mosquito Creek, a coroner with medical experience would have noticed the outward signs that this man was a cancer victim. That would have saved the county lots of money on an investigation,” he said.

Blue ran for coroner unsuccessfully in 2012. This is Hodges first time running for public office.

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