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Coroner Candidates Trade Barbs at Candidate Forum

Incumbent Ken Toftoy and challenger Michael Dabney square of over budget, number of deputy coroners and other issues during Thursday's event.

Kendall County Coroner Ken Toftoy and his opponent Michael Dabney traded verbal jabs during a contentious candidate forum Thursday night hosted by WSPY FM.

The candidates fielded questions from local journalists and audience members. The coroner’s segment of the forum, which also featured candidates for the Kendall County Board and Clerk of Court, had the most back-and-forth commentary of the night as the two men sparred over the budget of the coroner’s office and the number of part-time employees.

Toftoy has served as coroner for 20 years. Dabney served as a deputy coroner in Kendall County for several years, and also serves as a paramedic in Oswego.

Toftoy said he has maintained a stable budget for the office for the past two years and will continue to do so, while Dabney said he would reduce the budget by reducing the number of part-time deputy coroners from five to two, and reduce the full-time administrative assistant to a part-time position. He said he would take on the bulk of the responsibilities as a full-time coroner.

“With the average of one call per day, you just don’t need that many employees,” Dabney said.

Toftoy shot back that the position requires the coroner to be on call “24/7” and requires a large amount of clerical work and fielding telephone calls. He said Dabney’s plan to reduce the positions would hamper the ability of the office to function properly.

Dabney said an administrative assistant working 10 hours a week can take care of any necessary clerical work he could not get to as coroner. Call forwarding would allow any incoming calls to be handled by himself when he was in the field, he said.

Toftoy said it’s not appropriate to answer telephone calls while dealing with grieving families or the authorities at crime scenes.

If elected Dabney also said he would not allow his deputy coroners to carry firearms, even though that is allowable by law. He indicated one current deputy coroner completed firearms training paid for by the coroner’s office. However, he appeared to contradict himself when he said he would not allow deputy coroners to carry because they were not trained in firearms safety.

Toftoy though said none of his deputy coroners carry firearms when they’re on the job. 

A question from the audience asked the candidates about disciplinary actions taken against them while they served in their various positions. Toftoy said he has never been written up for disciplinary actions during his time as a coroner, or the years he served as a paramedic. Dabney acknowledged a report in the Ledger-Sentinel that revealed five disciplinary notices in Dabney’s employee file with the Oswego Fire Department. The disciplinary notices include three written warnings, an oral reprimand and a notice of suspension.

After acknowledging the actions, Dabney said no one knows for sure if Toftoy received any complaints as coroner since there is no one other than Toftoy to supervise discipline.

The audience responded with a chorus of “boos” and cries of “cheap shot.”

Toftoy reiterated he has no disciplinary record.

The election is Nov. 6.

Stephen Youhanaie November 01, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I voted for all Republicans save one race. Any guesses? It's about time that Republicans act like Republicans. Wasteful spending, padding the payroll, and paying for ammunition for non-salaried employees is not my Republican way of thinking. Although I contributed to Republican Rob Russell, Jon Zahm, and his wife have a point. If you think that the Republican nominee is not acting like a Republican, you can go out and work for the other guy. Zahm's family is working for both Republican Toftoy, and Democrat Martinez. He, and his wife think these candidates are the strongest. He, and his wife are paid by these candidates, so they must think this way. I'm just a rank amatuer, as Zahm puts it. I reserve the right to think freely.
Jon Zahm November 02, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Steve, you have the order of things wrong. I decide who I am going to support and then I decide who I work professionally for. I have that ability because there are more people who want to hire me than I can possibly work for. I have a great deal of respect for Ken Toftoy and his record of service over two decades. And his opponent is such an embarrassment with his disciplinary record and his personal finances. This is documented at www.nodabney.com.
Oswego Fan November 04, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Why dont you ask the families he helps in there darkest hour how they feel about him. Dealing with what he has to deal with such as that little boy who died last week. That takes a special person and I thank Ken Toftoy for what he does. You are nickel and diming the man for somone who has shown he cant even do the job he has well.
Jake Delrose November 04, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Jerri, What do you mean here because the last time I understood English, it came with a complete thought and are you qualified to vote? "It is an embarrassment to us that pay the for the office." If you are stating that it is an embarrassment for your tax dollars to go towards the Coroners office, then you do not understand taxes. Or Your upset that Toftoy operates an efficient office, that you wish to put in a candidate that has a foreclosure on his record along with disciplinary issues at his current job. Not sure what you mean here but you can cast your vote.
Jeri November 04, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Thank you Mr. Dabney for providing us a choice. You have our support due to attitudes. I am ready to shake the rugs. You are capable of doing very well. Mr. Toftoy hangs out with Jake. That is enough for us. Thank you

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