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Berks County Coroner

The Coroner’s chief duty is to investigate all sudden, unexpected, unexplained or violent deaths occurring within the County. In cases of deaths which have possibly resulted from a criminal act or neglect, the Coroner may conduct and Inquest and call witnesses. The Coroner may employ a physician to conduct autopsies.Salary: $83,970; Term: 4 yearsYour ballot may contain more races than you see here.

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  • Candidate picture

    John Fielding
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Jonn M Hollenbach
    (Dem)

Información Biográfica

What motivates you to run for the office of County Coroner?

Please explain your qualifications for this position.

How will you assure your office reflects the community?

Campaign Phone (610) 406-2769
Education B.A., (Religious Education) Washington Bible College M.Div., Reformed Episcopal Seminary M.A. (Linguistics), Temple University J.D., Temple University School of Law
Qualifications U.S. Navy Field Manager, Westminster Security Service Area Manager, Hygienic Exterminating Company Attorney, 28 years Post Commander, Exeter Township American Legion Post 934 Councilman, Mount Penn Borough Council Board Member, Antietam School Board Chairman, Berks County Housing Authority Chairman, Antietam Youth Baseball Association
The employees of the office are, by and large, very good at their jobs. It is the position of Coroner that has been filled with unsatisfactory managers. They have ranged from those who have been sentenced to federal prison for job selling to firing everyone in the office without cause to hiring friends and drinking buddies and using it as a patronage position. This problem has caused rancor in the office between those that belong there and those that do not. A competent manager would manage the office so that the entire office of deputy coroners works together as a team to produce competent investigations and keeps accurate records of causes and and manner of death. Because of my background in management and 28 years of evaluating evidence as an attorney, I believe I can bring a professional expertise to the management problems now afflicting this office. I also believe that I can be accessible to those investigating in the field without interfering with their important tasks.
I have managed in the service industry in both contract security and pest control. I know what it means to run an office to produce satisfactory result for the customers of the business. This is especially important in government service because there is no competition to provide a check on incompetent service. Further, while the deputy coroners perform the bulk of the investigations as to cause and manner of death, the Coroner is responsible to make the ultimate decision as to the cause and manner of death. Therefore, in addition to managing the office, the Coroner must be able to evaluate the evidence coming from the deputy coroners, from the police investigations, and the autopsy reports from the forensic pathologists at local hospitals. In 28 years as an attorney, I have evaluated medical reports, police reports and, occasionally, autopsy reports in preparing my cases for presentation to a jury. I am also qualified to sit as a judge at an inquest should one be necessary.
The hiring practices in the office have to reflect objectivity in hiring based on qualifications regarding the conducting of investigations as well as sensitivity to all individuals in all segments of the community who have lost loved ones at a most difficult moment. Therefore, to ensure that those qualities are present in all personnel hired by the office, I would engage a panel of senior deputy coroners as well as management personnel to interview each person to ensure that we can produce a quality service to each segment of the community we serve as well as maintaining sensitivity to those grieving over the loss of a loved one.
Campaign Phone (610) 468-1681
Education Reading High School
Qualifications Pennsylvania Coroner's Education Board certified since 2001; American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators certified and registered since 2012; Almost 8 years as a Deputy Coroner; Over 6 years as Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner; Over 1-1/2 years as Chief Deputy Coroner; Acting Coroner since July 2020
Service to the Public and Not Oneself… When I started in the coroner’s office in 2000, I had no expectations. It was something new. I had no idea that 21 years later, I’d be overseeing the office. The job I took in 2000, turned into a career that is absolutely one of the most fulfilling experiences someone could hope for. We provide answers. Whether it is with a cause of death, identification, or some of the many other questions faced, we provide the answers that the deceased individual’s loved ones seek. Interacting with families, especially during an untimely or unexpected death, is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. This office does not deliver good news. Sometimes loved ones do not accept the facts given to them, which is understandable given their grief. When you get a letter years later, from the father who lost his son, thanking you for being there that day and helping the family. That is what motivates me; continue serving the public with the best service possible.
Most Qualified and Experienced Candidate... From the start, I’ve strived to learn as much as possible. I’ve attended required training and additional training on my own time or at my own expense. I’ve also attended grant-funded training at some of the most highly respected forensic agencies in the country, such as the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In 2012, becoming certified and registered through the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators was a proud moment. That is the standard by which death investigators are measured. Due to my work ethic, I was promoted to a supervisory role in 2012 where I have been able to learn the management/administrative side of the office; from budgets to contract procurement to authorizing the hiring of staff, all while being able to assist the deputies with their caseload. No other candidate has the qualifications and experience that I do.
Reflecting the Community... Broad and diverse representation is essential at all levels and offices of government, especially local government. Transparency starts from within. A diverse set of lenses, examining all policies and systems, creates an equitable and fair system. I am fortunate to have a diverse staff, including bilingual, at the Berks County Coroner’s Office. The coroner’s office recognizes the tragedy surrounding an untimely death and is responsible for an unbiased investigation of the facts and circumstances, regardless of sex, race, religion, political affiliation, etc. By having a diverse workforce in place, it has been essential in providing culturally competent care. The office must work with the community stakeholders to ensure the decline in untimely deaths, such as from suicide and drugs.