A former county coroner will face off with a private investigator in the Democratic primary for York County coroner.
While James Harold "Jim" Chapman Jr. says his paramedic and former coroner experience make him a sure fit, challenger Peter Gordon "Pete" Skidmore says his investigator skills make him the best man for the job.
"The coroner needs to be well-versed in the medical field and have an intimate and in-depth knowledge of the anatomy and physiology," Chapman said.
Not so, Skidmore said.
"This position is an investigative position," he said.
Chapman served as York County coroner from 1984 to 1994, when he stepped down after a dispute with the York County Council over hours and salary. The council at the time said Chapman failed to live up to his full-time status after the county raised his salary from $7,000 to $32,000. Six months later, the council cut Chapman's salary and returned the office to part time.
"I stepped down because I didn't want to see 10 years of growth embattled in a continued confrontation with York County Council," Chapman said. "I resigned for the betterment of the office."
York County Coroner Doug McKown took over the post after Chapman. Now, Chapman's ready to steer the coroner's office again, he said.
"Taking care of people in York County is what I do best," he said.
Skidmore wants to see the coroner's office function independently of the police department.
"That doesn't mean that they can't work together, but the people of York County voted the coroner in to be independent," Skidmore said. "They have to investigate independently and form their opinions on their own."
Chapman's plans include an office that will provide counselors to assist people during their bereavement. He said he'd like to revive a "scared straight" program in which coroners present alcohol- and drunken-driving related scenes to junior and senior students.
"I want to see that up and running," he said. "It's not always the driver who gets hurt. Small actions can have large and serious consequences."
The winner of the June 10 election will face Republican Sabrina Gast, who until recently served as interim coroner, a post she was appointed to by Gov. Mark Sanford in 2006 after McKown was arrested on drug charges.
McKown returned to the post earlier this week after a jury found him not guilty on three drug-related charges. He was convicted of unlawfully possessing a prescription drug, a misdemeanor offense. The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating allegations of official misconduct against him. McKown on Thursday announced that he is not seeking re-election.
The coroner serves a four-year term and earns $63,521 annually.