By Matt Youngfrau
SULLIVAN COUNTY October 31, 2003 Its not always a fun job, but somebodys got to do it.
The current incumbent Sullivan County Coroner is Republican and Conservative Dr. David Sager. His opponent is Robert Cordani.
Dr. David Sager was elected as the youngest-ever County Coroner four years ago. At the time, he was 28 years old. Since then, he and the job have changed a great deal.
I think I have done an excellent job over the last four years, Sager stated. I have helped to streamline the office. I have made it more professional. The four coroners have different personalities and [political] parties. We run that office non-partisan as it should be.
Sager is a chiropractor in Jeffersonville. As a lifelong resident, Sager has a long history of community involvement. He was a past Board Member and Chair of the Sullivan County Red Cross. He is the Village of Monticello Police Surgeon and is active in Jeffersonvilles fire department, chamber of commerce, and Sullivan Renaissance.
Over the past four years, I have brought a high level of professionalism, integrity, and dedication to the office of Coroner, Sager said. I have been involved in nearly 200 cases and have worked very closely with all of the countys police agencies. My background in the medical sciences has given me the training to most appropriately perform the duties of Coroner.
The Coroner becomes the chief investigating officer at a crime scene involving a death. The Coroner has to gather all the pertinent information and make sure sure it stands up to any and all litigation.
But theres more to it than forensics. Sager has worked hard to get all the Coroners together.
Before I got in office, there was little communication, he remarked. Now we have meetings to discuss problems. We have open communications now.
Sager has also tried to save the county money. Three years ago, the county bought bodybags from the mortician on the scene at $40-$80 apiece. Sager got the county to order their own bodybags at an average price of $25 apiece.
It is a tough position, commented Sager. I do a thorough job. I have a great relationship with all the legal entities.
Sager stated the Coroner gets very little training from the county.
There is almost no training, he said. A lot of it is common sense. There are bi-annual conferences and seminars. I am pro-active to gain more knowledge.
Just like in the medical field, the new HIIPPA Act also applies to the deceased. The federal laws protect privacy in both medical and and death issues.
They [government officials] are very strict and stringent, Sager said. I deal with them on a daily basis. I know the laws and the rules. I gave suggestions to the county when they implemented it.
Like many small counties, Sullivan uses a Coroner system. Anyone can run for Coroner. However, as the county grows, it may become too big for such. Sager sees Sullivan County one day going to a Medical Examiner system.
They do a better job in examining a death, Sager revealed. It would have to be a forensic pathologist. It would run into the six figures. As growth happens, it will be needed. I see it coming in 15-20 years.
Sager summed it up thusly: I have been a highly dedicated and non-partisan public servant to all of Sullivan County. I have strived for a degree of excellence. I will keep doing so.
Sager lives in Jeffersonville with his wife, Michelle, and their nine-month-old son, Owen.
I decided to run for Coroner due to a personal experience I had living in the Town of Mamakating, Cordani explained. I unfortunately lost both my parents on separate occasions. The Coroner response time could have been better. They all live on the western end of the county.
I saw the opportunity to make a difference, Cordani continued. This seemed like the opportune time. Since the situation with my parents, I have more experience to handle it.
Cordani has lived in Sullivan County for 23 years. He is an investigator for a private company, a part-time court officer for the Town of Mamakating Court, and a federal marshal on a per-diem basis.
Cordani, if elected, wants to work closely with the other coroners.
The first thing I want to do is work in harmony with the other coroners I truly mean that, he said. I would be open to suggestions from the other coroners and the public to better serve the county.
Cordani has extensive training in firefighting and EMS. He has been awarded for some of that work, including one from New York State Senator William Larkin. He also has been a member of the Elks and the Lions.
We need a balance in the Coroners office throughout the county, Cordani commented. Calls are made on a rotating basis. If there is a snowstorm, Ill take a call for another coroner. We are all there for the same purpose to serve the public.
Cordani feels his experience and background can help him do the job.
As an investigator, I have experience looking at details, he remarked. I worked many years in the court. I understand how testimony works. As an EMT, I have experience filling out forms. I can adapt to each individual case.
I will serve each family with compassion and dignity, Cordani continued. I have matured through the years. I will be sensitive to the family throughout.