Editor's note: This was updated Wednesday evening with comments from Toftoy.
A 52-year-old Oswego firefighter and former deputy coroner is running against Coroner Ken Toftoy as an independent.
Mike Dabney, of Oswego, is circulating petitions to run again after an unsuccessful bid against Toftoy in the 2008 Republican primary. Toftoy, who also is chairman of the Kendall County Republican Central Committee, has served as coroner since 1992, according to his profile on the county’s website.
Dabney said he decided to run as an independent shortly after the 2008 race to give more voters more options on the ballot.
“There were a lot of people who came up to me and said, ‘I would have voted for you, but you ran as a Republican,’” Dabney said.
He needs to collect and submit 1,540 signatures by June 25 to get on the ballot.
If elected, Dabney said he would do most of the coroner’s office call-outs, especially those during the week, himself. He also is dedicated to providing community education on topics such as CPR, the danger of senior citizens overmedicating and motorcycle safety.
If elected, he would quit his firefighter job to focus on the Coroner's Office full-time.
“I truly want to be coroner to be coroner,” Dabney said. “I don’t want to be GOP president, or Democrat president. I don’t need a raise. I don’t need any more money than what the job offers at this point. I believe it’s a privilege to serve.”
Toftoy acknowledged he has been politically active in Kendall County since 1982. He also was president of the Illinois Coroner's Association in 2000 and remains active. He also receives 20 hours of mandated continuing education each year.
“My attending those conferences and meetings, you keep up on what is going on in the state," Toftoy said.
Dabney served as a deputy coroner from 2002 to 2008. He also worked for the Aurora Police Department for 27 years, the last 13 as a crime scene investigator.
He presently is a full-time firefighter/paramedic/investigator for the Oswego Fire Protection District, a crime scene instructor for the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy at the College of DuPage, and an instructor for a fire investigator module at the College of DuPage.
Meanwhile, Toftoy said the Coroner's Office was a part-time position run out of a funeral home operated by the elected coroner before Toftoy was elected 20 years ago. He created the physical office space and saved the county $50,000 in 1996 by having a hospital donate equipment for the morgue, he said.
He also makes anti-drunk-driving presentations to high schoolers, visits forensic classes and gives tours of the morgue to criminal justice students. Toftoy said Dabney didn't handle many calls as a deputy coroner, but Toftoy has remained available to respond to situations around the clock.
“Death has no schedule," Toftoy said. "Myself and the deputies, we’re all on call.”