Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy and his opponent Michael Dabney traded verbal jabs during a contentious candidate forum Thursday night hosted by WSPY FM.
The candidates fielded questions from local journalists and audience members. The coroner’s segment of the forum, which also featured candidates for the Kendall County Board and Clerk of Court, had the most back-and-forth commentary of the night as the two men sparred over the budget of the coroner’s office and the number of part-time employees.
Toftoy has served as coroner for 20 years. Dabney served as a deputy coroner in Kendall County for several years, and also serves as a paramedic in Oswego.
Toftoy said he has maintained a stable budget for the office for the past two years and will continue to do so, while Dabney said he would reduce the budget by reducing the number of part-time deputy coroners from five to two, and reduce the full-time administrative assistant to a part-time position. He said he would take on the bulk of the responsibilities as a full-time coroner.
“With the average of one call per day, you just don’t need that many employees,” Dabney said.
Toftoy shot back that the position requires the coroner to be on call “24/7” and requires a large amount of clerical work and fielding telephone calls. He said Dabney’s plan to reduce the positions would hamper the ability of the office to function properly.
Dabney said an administrative assistant working 10 hours a week can take care of any necessary clerical work he could not get to as coroner. Call forwarding would allow any incoming calls to be handled by himself when he was in the field, he said.
Toftoy said it’s not appropriate to answer telephone calls while dealing with grieving families or the authorities at crime scenes.
If elected Dabney also said he would not allow his deputy coroners to carry firearms, even though that is allowable by law. He indicated one current deputy coroner completed firearms training paid for by the coroner’s office. However, he appeared to contradict himself when he said he would not allow deputy coroners to carry because they were not trained in firearms safety.
Toftoy though said none of his deputy coroners carry firearms when they’re on the job.
A question from the audience asked the candidates about disciplinary actions taken against them while they served in their various positions. Toftoy said he has never been written up for disciplinary actions during his time as a coroner, or the years he served as a paramedic. Dabney acknowledged a report in the Ledger-Sentinel that revealed five disciplinary notices in Dabney’s employee file with the Oswego Fire Department. The disciplinary notices include three written warnings, an oral reprimand and a notice of suspension.
After acknowledging the actions, Dabney said no one knows for sure if Toftoy received any complaints as coroner since there is no one other than Toftoy to supervise discipline.
The audience responded with a chorus of “boos” and cries of “cheap shot.”
Toftoy reiterated he has no disciplinary record.
The election is Nov. 6.