Coroner candidates square off in forum
With Election Day less than two weeks away, the candidates for Troup County coroner seat took part in the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce forum on Thursday night.
Erin Hackley, who currently serves as assistant deputy coroner, and Brandon Adams, who has worked in law enforcement and emergency medical services, answered four questions apiece as they informed voters on why they want to be the coroner.
Hackley said she began EMT school in 2007 and dealt with a tragic death six weeks later when her 3-year-old daughter was killed in an accident.
“At that time, I felt like I was led to help others. I feel like God was putting it on me to help others,” she said. “So, I went ahead and finished my schooling, and I came to Troup County. Shortly after I came to Troup County, I met [Coroner] Jeff Cook, and I called and asked him for a job. Four years ago, I was appointed deputy coroner. I’m excited to offer my unique skillset to you. If elected, I bring 12 years of emergency medicine. I have multiple hours of education in the medical and investigation field. I have investigated over 300 deaths.”
Adams said he felt like now is the right time to elevate his public service.
“I love this community. I love what it stands for and the people in it,” Adams said. “And I just wanted to do more than what I’ve been able to do in the past, so I decided several years ago that I wanted to take on this challenge and, and I just thank everyone for the opportunity. I hope, if elected into the position, to serve you well.”
Given the nature of the position, both candidates were asked about their ability to communicate with others through tough times or trauma.
Adams said he’d seen some terrible things in his time in law enforcement and EMS.
“I have been on the receiving end of people and their absolute worst times imaginable,” he said. “I have sat on the side of the road and cried with people who have lost loved ones. I’ve done it in the back of the ambulance. I’ve done it in the emergency room.”
Hackley said she’s had to notify families of deaths countless times throughout her 12 years of working on the ambulance. She said the coroner’s office ultimately has a great responsibility.
“You’re tasked with finding the cause of their family member’s death. It’s a great responsibility to be the one to determine [that],” Hackley said.
Adams said the biggest challenge the coroner’s office faces is the cost of transportation.
“Transportation to the medical examiner’s office is the responsibility of the Troup County Coroner’s office, and that is a big portion of the budget,” Adams said. “And so, I feel like that is a way that you can mitigate or reduce those costs, whether it’s to negotiate with a transport company or whatever the case may be trying to find creative ways to lower that cost. That, in turn, lowers the needed budget for the coroner’s office, which, of course, is paid by the taxpayers like every other government office.”
Hackley said the coroner’s office needs more space.
“We have relied on the graciousness of West Georgia Medical Center to provide a workspace,” she said. “… I believe one of our biggest challenges is that we need morgue space. There are grant opportunities available to that I would like to begin the process of exploring.”
Both candidates said that they believe it’s important that the coroner’s office works well with law enforcement.