I t’s possible that after next Tuesday, two of the four coroners in Washington County could reside in Whitehall.
Seven candidates are running for four open coroner seats, including two from Whitehall.
Republican candidate Ruth Scribner is vying for a return to the position after spending the last four years as one of the coroners in Washington County.
She is opposed by Democratic candidate Michael Putorti.
The race also features Republicans James Gariepy of Salem, Tracy Snell of Schaghticoke, and incumbent Edwards Parsons of Granville, as well as Democratic candidates Naomi Marsh of Cambridge and Terry Barber of Fort Ann.
Putorti, a member of the Whitehall Board of Education, is running for the coroner’s position for the first time.
He said he was approached about running four years ago but wasn’t ready at the time. Since then he‘s retired from his position with Great Meadow Correctional Facility and said he is ready to take on the role.
“I’m very much a community orientated person and the coroner’s position is kind of a community service function,” Putorti said.
Putorti has been an active member with the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Company for the past 31 years, a member of the SVFC First Response team for about 25 years and has been a CPR instructor for the past 15 years.
He also served as the New York State coordinator for the Blood Exposure Response team which helps people who have been exposed to bodily fluids in a prison environment cope with what happened.
“I’ve been around. There aren’t really any exact qualifications the county puts forward but I feel I can do the job because of my experience. Those situations don’t really bother me,” he said. “I understand the scenario and know how to deal with people in difficult situations.”
His stated goal is to handle situations, such as unattended deaths, in a timely manner.
He said there have been several situations in the past where coroners weren’t immediately available and several hours have passed before a coroner could arrive on a scene.
“I would like to improve the coverage so people aren’t waiting. Our goal is to get the process started in a timely fashion.”
Scriber, who is the chairman of the board of directors for the Skenesborough EMS and has served that organization for more than two decades is about to complete her first term as county coroner.
“I knew we needed someone to provide coverage in this area and the Republican’s asked me to run so I went for it,” Scribner said, adding that she enjoyed her first term and decided to run again.
She believes her previous experience is advantage over other candidates.
“There are no real qualifications for the job, but because I’m with the EMS, I feel that gives me a leg up,” she said.
Although they’re technically running against each, both Scribner and Putorti said they have worked together for many years through their involvement with the fire company and the Skenesborough EMS and are looking forward to working with each other if they are both elected.
“I’ve worked with him quite a bit,” Scribner said. “He’s very good to work with.”