Michael R. Rein: Candidate profile, McHenry County coroner
wo candidates will be on the ballot for McHenry County coroner, Republican Michael R. Rein and Libertarian Kelly Liebmann.
Rein is a chiropractor, Marine Corps veteran and former construction company vice president. Liebmann is a Greenwood Township trustee and former 911 dispatch operator who has been active in county and civic affairs.
The candidates were asked to respond to a series of questions. Here are the responses.
Q. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
A. My biggest priority is to make the McHenry County Coroner's office one of the best in Illinois. Bringing fiscally sound management to the Coroner's Office that controls costs and still gives quality services. Not only do I bring almost 20 years of medical experience, including a bachelor's in Human Biology and a Doctor of Chiropractic, but having served as a county board member, I am familiar with budget processes.
This is critical every year, and the allocations that go along with the Coroner's Office. Having worked with Human Resources, Purchasing and the County Administrator gave me a great understanding on the rules and laws that govern the Coroner's Office. I have a grasp on allocations that can be dealt with regarding resolutions and emergency situations.
One pressing priority would be to bring the outdated hard folder files to a computer-based program. This would work in conjunction with certifying accreditation for the Coroner's office through either the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners (IACMA) or National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME). This would make McHenry County only one of a few counties in Illinois accredited.
Q. What special experience and professional qualifications does a person need to be an effective coroner? What experiences and qualifications do you possess that will provide a foundation for your success in the office?
A. The Elected Coroner is the leader of the office. Leading by example within the team is always the best policy. I have successfully been a leader during my time in the United States Marine Corps, V.P. of my family's construction business, owning my own business and being a former county board member.
My medical background has given me the tools with over 6,000 hours of academic and clinical training. This is including, but not limited to, Human Anatomy/Diseases/Pathologies, to properly diagnose and give successful treatment outcomes. I have studied thousands of X-rays/MRIs over my medical career. I have successfully completed two certifications in the Medicolegal Death and Forensic Investigations field, which are done by Coroners and Medical Examiners.
As Coroner, you are the lead administrator of the office as well. While on the McHenry County Board, I led the reform to the county's health insurance program. By revamping the program the county is saving the taxpayers millions of dollars every year. As part of the HR Committee, I helped to successfully secure union contracts.
Q. Describe your position on transparency and public service in the coroner's office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A. As a public official, I believe that transparency must be a high priority within any elected office. As a former county board member, I voted to release a State's Attorney to give open and honest transparency to the public. However, within the Coroner's Office there are many factors to consider before releasing possible sensitive information.
First and foremost, next of kin must be notified during any investigation. They must be told of all procedures and processes going forward, including the release of the decedent's name to the media when warranted. When a case is an ongoing investigation, it is imperative to work with law enforcement and the State's Attorney that sensitive material is not released. If this were to happen, records could be withheld for ongoing investigations.
Once a case has been closed, a FOIA request can release most, if not all, records that only the Coroner's Office has generated. The Coroner's Office must always strive to release records in a timely manner, but also be prudent to the sensitivity of the next of kin and any ongoing investigation.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A. The death of a loved one or family member can be one of the most emotional and stressful times in a person's life. I am running for Coroner to make sure of the highest quality death investigation, independent facts apart from all other departments and people involved, is accomplished. This is to provide those affected by death with the easiest and most trouble free process possible.
It is my opinion that the duty of the Coroner is to be active within the community for the health and well-being of all people of our county. With the increased use of Opioids, Fentanyl, Heroin and now vaping, we must try to curb these senseless deaths in our community.
I worked with the McHenry County Drug Coordinator on numerous occasions regarding drug deaths by examining trends locally and nationally. I will continue to find ways to combat these deaths by working with our local law enforcement and State's Attorney.
Suicides continue to increase not only in the general public but also among our veterans who are returning home. Having worked with our McHenry County Mental Health Coordinator, I believe in finding those general causes that are impacting people in the greatest need.
Q. Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the coroner's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A. I feel the Coroner's Office should look at personnel on an annual basis. The Coroner must make sure that the Coroner Deputies are not being stretched too thin. I would consistently follow statistical analysis, year to year, to determine what the best course of action would be with personnel.
The Coroner's Office has never had a Chief Deputy Coroner, but I feel that a Chief Deputy Coroner, which could be a hybrid position of Administrative and Deputy duties, would suit the Coroner's Office best. Compensation studies with surrounding and similar county size can determine these fair market value.
Capital projects for the future are becoming accredited with IACMA or NAME. Upgrading our current computer system and taking all old hard files, as stated earlier, and digitizing them would help with efficiency. I feel that the Coroner's Office needs to update to a bar code system. This system would streamline paperwork and help coordinate with local law enforcement and State's Attorney's office.
As Coroner, I would make sure that our Deputies continue taking advanced training/classes and updating their skills. This would include making our Deputies ABMDI Certified.