[First printed in the Party Matters email newsletter] The Elkhart County Republican Party wants you to know your candidates. Throughout the run toward the May Primary Election, we will be posting Q&As with your candidates to help introduce (and re-introduce) them to you – the Republican voter! All Republican candidates in the race are contacted. We begin this series with the contested race for Coroner.

1: Candidate bio:

My name is Mervin Miller and proudly serve as the current Elkhart County Coroner. Being born, raised, and educated in Elkhart County my commitment is vast and deep.

Married to Frances (Bontrager) since 1993 we have two daughters Miranda (Jesse) Kinney and Sierra (Cameron) Smith and am a member of Nappanee Missionary Church.

I started in the Elkhart County Coroners’ office in 2013 due to my experience and training with an EMT Certification, Paramedic License, Fire Fighter I/II, EMS with Instructor Certifications, and Funeral/Embalmer License.

During my time in the coroners’ office, in 2018 I obtained an associate degree in Paramedic and Mortuary Science further solidifying my background in this important County Department.

The Elkhart County Coroner fills a vital role in our community. The difficulty of losing a loved one is a loss that compelled me to make this my mission field to the community.

Being a light in the darkness of loss is not a position that I take lightly, and I have and will continue to provide solace and peace during times of significant personal pain.

I ask for your vote to allow me to continue my service to the citizens of Elkhart County.

2. Why do you decide to seek election/re-election?

I feel God has put me on this earth to serve others. I started this when I went into public service as an EMT, then a Licensed Paramedic, which is still currently active, and a Licensed Funeral Director. I carry this same passion, commitment, honor, and pride into the office since joining in 2013.

With over a decade of experience in the Elkhart County Coroners’ Office my experience, dedication, education, and proven leadership skills clearly sets me apart as the best choice for this critical position.

Although a humble man, please allow me the opportunity to list some of my qualifications for this position:

• Financially responsible. I have returned over $298,000 to the county by carefully managing the funds entrusted to my department.

• Communicator. During my time, communications with the funeral homes and families have dramatically improved during this time of loss.

• Efficient. Issuance of Death Certificates reduced from weeks to days.

• Partnering. Built a positive partnership with all the Public Service Agencies resulting in a positive work environment.

• Ethical. I hold the Department of the Coroner to the highest professional standards. Additionally, I have developed a Departmental Protocol process to ensure complete and thorough investigations.

As a member of Nappanee Missionary Church, I consider my God to be my guiding light in both my personal and professional life. As a lifelong Elkhart County resident, I am dedicated to serving the needs of our fellow citizens. I consider my position as your Coroner to be my mission field and my dedication and compassion leads me to treat the families of decedents as if they were my own family.

3. What do you feel are the main issues facing the office of the coroner?

There are several major issues facing the coroner’s office today. One is the lack of citizens having a primary physician. With all the clinics popping up, people go there for ease and cost but as a result sacrifice the important relationship with a dedicated primary physician. These physicians (or nurse practitioners) do not sign death certificates as a result, it’s putting more demand on the coroner to sign the death certificates. The refusal of Doctors signing death certificates is basically a result of their desire to avoid potential liability. The fentanyl/Meth overdoses keep holding steady with no end in sight.

The COVID, flu, RSV, and all the other illness are going on put additional demand on the coroner’s office. Lastly, the many broken and estranged families want nothing to do with each other. This creates a couple of issues for the coroner office, one finding families to make notification and second as a result the township Trustees must get involved to assist with the decedents final resting place.

4. What are some elements of this job that the public may not know about?

The lack of education on what the coroner’s job entails and sometimes the cause and manner of death is a complex situation that can take longer than an hour TV show portrays it does. In the state of Indiana, any medically trained person, like EMS providers, are allowed to pronounce death. and then the Coroner is contacted to investigate and make the final determination as to the next steps necessary. At times what is required is just a phone call to their primary doctor to notify their office of the death and ask them to sign the death certificate agree to an autopsy and provide a way to contact and notify the family. The coroner is responsible to speak for the dead.

5. Why have you decided to seek election as a Republican candidate?

I stand on the foundation of what the Republican party stands for. I am a Christian steadfast in God, family, Constitution, and serving others. I have been a conservative minded person from my youth, and I will not waver from it. I am very proud to be a republican and will stand firm for the party, and what it stands for. United we stand, divided we fall. I believe we must be fiscally responsible to succeed as a community and I will do my part to ensure the funds I am entrusted with are spent responsibly.

6. How can voters get in touch with you and stay updated on your campaign?

I may be reached at [email protected], cell phone 574-596-6081, Facebook direct Messager or follow/like my campaign at Facebook page Mervin Miller for Elkhart County Coroner. I am open to meeting with you or your group to discuss what all the coroner does, how and why deaths are investigated.

[Note: The primary challenger in this race was contacted with this survey and did not respond by time of print.]