The 2016 race for Kane County coroner appears to be a recast of 2012. The same players say they might be running again.
Earlier this month, incumbent Republican Rob Russell announced he will be seeking a second term. His opponent in the 2012 primary, Dr. Bob Tiballi, announced at a recent GOP event he was planning to run again.
And the Democratic opponent Russell defeated in 2012, Tao Martinez, said he was going to run again, too.
If no others join the race and all three follow through to be on the ballot, Russell and Tiballi will face off in a general primary March 15 for the Republican nomination. Martinez and the GOP winner would vie for the coroner position in the general election Nov. 8.
Martinez said he reached out to both Republican committeemen and Democratic committeemen for support because he believes the coroner position should be nonpartisan.
“I don’t see why this position should be Republican or Democrat,” Martinez said. “Some in the Democratic party are questioning why I’m reaching out to Republicans. And Republicans are asking, ‘Why is he reaching out to Republicans?’ … Some people embrace the idea; some do not.”
Martinez is the founder of a company that provides a cleanup service after death. He said he is circulating nominating petitions.
Kane County Auditor Terry Hunt said Tiballi announced he was running for coroner at the Aurora Township Republican Rib Fest on Sept. 24. Tiballi, an Elgin doctor, said he talked about planning to run for coroner again, but he has not made a formal announcement. Tiballi also unsuccessfully ran for coroner in 2004.
“I am putting a campaign committee together to see how much support we have,” Tiballi said. “Many dozens of people, citizens across Kane County, called me and asked me to run again.”
Repeating some of the themes from the last coroner’s race, Tiballi said, as a medical doctor, he is “the most qualified person” for the office.
“And I’m realizing that a lot of citizens feel the same way. I have reconsidered and am going to be throwing my hat in the ring,” Tiballi said. “I’m not ready to make a formal announcement.”
Russell’s recent conflicts with the Kane County Board aren’t stopping him from seeking a second term in office.
“I feel I’m still called to be here,” Russell said when he announced the run for re-election. “I have not been deterred at all.”
Russell, a retired sheriff’s deputy from DuPage County, had campaigned on promises he would restore integrity to an office previously marked by controversy.
In announcing his candidacy for 2016, Russell, of South Elgin listed his first-term accomplishments, including entombing more than 50 unclaimed cremated remains found on an office shelf; establishing the coroner’s office as a prescription drug drop-off site; and restoring relationships with police, fire officials, hospitals and funeral homes.
As to the possibility of facing the same two opponents again, Russell on Tuesday said he cannot do anything about who decides to run for office.
“I mean, let’s hope we have the same result,” Russell said, meaning his re-election. “All I can control is what I do. We are going to run a clean, good campaign and move on.”