Rick Taylor (left), Barrett Hillier.
IDAHO FALLS — Two candidates are hoping to become the Republican party nominee in the race for Bonneville County Coroner.
Incumbent Rick D. Taylor is running against opponent Barrett Hillier.
EastIdahoNews.com sent the same eight questions to each candidate. Their unedited responses were required to be 250 words or less.
Tell us about yourself — include information about your family, career, education, volunteer work and any prior experience in public office.
Taylor: I was raised here in Idaho Falls and have always loved it here. I have two siblings, both of which live out of state.
I served nearly 30 yrs with the Idaho Falls Fire Dept., retiring as a Division Chief. Most of the calls we received were EMS type, giving me a lot of experience in patient assessment.
I have been with the Coroner’s Office for 20 yrs., starting as Chief Deputy and then Coroner in 2012. I also was a Reserve Officer for the Idaho Falls Police Dept. for 10 yrs.
I am currently certified for post-mortem investigation by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI).
I am proud to be able to list support from Wood, Coltrin and Buck Murphy Funeral Homes, Sheriff Sam Hulse, the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), to list a few.
Love serving the people of Bonneville County!
Hillier: I am a third-generation police officer and lifelong resident of Bonneville County. My father, grandfather, and I have faithfully served the citizens of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County for over 60 years.
I graduated from Skyline High School in 1998. I attended Idaho State University and graduated from the ISU Law Enforcement Academy in 2000. I have 2 years of part-time experience and 19 years of full-time law enforcement experience working 17 of those years here in Bonneville County.
I am an experienced patrol officer, waterways deputy, school resource officer, and detective. As a detective, I worked narcotics, general detectives, major crimes, and I was assigned to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. I have completed over 2650 hours of specialized training including Investigative Technology, Interview and Interrogation, Officer Involved Shooting, Death Investigation, Crime Scene Investigation, Blood Pattern Analysis, Homicide Investigation, Evidence Collection, and In-Custody Death Investigations. I have an Advanced Certificate and Masters Certificate in Law Enforcement from the Idaho POST academy.
I am an eagle scout and I volunteered as a scout leader and young men’s leader for my church. I volunteered for school district 93 and I was on a committee to find solutions to the overcrowding of our schools. I am also a small business owner.
What are your proudest accomplishments in your personal life or career?
Taylor: As far as personal life, I must say that raising 6 children is one of my proudest accomplishments. I am also proud of time spent- about 14 yrs- as a Boy Scout leader for 14-16 yr olds, specifically Varsity Coach- as it was called at the time. We spent a lot of good times training young men to become good adults, and then seeing them become responsible people in the community. I am again very proud to have served with the IFFD, and now the Coroner’s Office. I feel both are positions of service within the community.
Hillier: My greatest accomplishments are my children. I have two boys and two girls. My oldest is in college and my youngest will be starting high school in the fall. They are involved in sports, music, dance, cheerleading, FFA, church, school and community plays, and various other activities and programs. Watching my children learn, grow, and blossom into who they are brings me a lot of joy and happiness. They are all different and unique. No two of them are the same.
I can’t take all the credit, however, because it takes a village to raise a child. My children have both a mother and a father who love them very much. They have wonderful grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles who are good examples and role models for them. My children have amazing teachers, band and orchestra directors, coaches, and advisers.
In my career I have seen tragedies and overwhelming sadness. My children ground me with love and hope. I’m proud to be their father.
Why are you a member of the Republican/Democrat/Independent/Other party? Briefly explain your political platform.
Taylor: I am a member of the Republican Party because for as long as I can remember I have followed the various Republican leaders, both local and national, and they have represented ideals that as a person I feel most closely reflect my own.
Hillier: I am a Republican because I believe in personal responsibility, a limited role for government, and following the Idaho and United States Constitutions.
As Coroner, I commit to serve the citizens of Bonneville County with honor, integrity, and compassion. With my extensive law enforcement background, I am uniquely qualified to thoroughly investigate all manner of death to determine when further investigation is warranted and justified. As a small business owner, I am the best choice to streamline the inefficiencies of government.
Please explain the role and responsibilities of the position you are running for?
Taylor: I feel it is imperative that Bonneville County has a Coroner who is well acquainted with the medical knowledge base required to do the tasks that the Coroner is called upon to do. The primary tasks given a Coroner to do are:
determine cause of death
determine the manner of death- i.e.: – natural, accidental, suicide, homicide and the factors used to differentiate
determine time frame of death
do the many things that make it possible to accomplish these determinations- such as drawing blood for toxicology, examining for physical indicators, researching patient records to find contributing factors, etc.
I feel that the Office of Coroner has traditionally been highly underrated for the skills that are necessary to do an adequate job. Our county population has been increasing rapidly the last several years and the deaths increasing on an equal percentage. Equally the call load has increased tremendously. The skills must be present to accomplish the job!
Hillier: Did you know there were more than 1100 deaths in Bonneville County in 2020? The Bonneville County Coroner has the responsibility to investigate and determine the cause and manner of those deaths. The coroner is also obligated to locate and notify their legal next of kin. Did you know the current Bonneville County Coroner position is part-time?
The coroner serves the people of Bonneville County by working on the behalf of the deceased to obtain the truth surrounding the circumstance of their death. The coroner’s office is independent of all other entities: physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, attorneys, and law enforcement agencies.
I commit to quality, in depth investigations in a timely manner. I commit to accurate reports and improved relationships with law enforcement. And most of all, I commit to you the best service I can provide.
What are the greatest challenges facing your county?
Taylor: As related to this position: by far the vast majority of what the coroner is called to do is related to medical issues. Having a good working knowledge of all the required medical issues is imperative. This job has always been listed as a “part time” position. That has been sufficient to get the work done in previous years. It is still currently listed as part time but we are getting consistently busier and it will need to be a full-time position in the not-too- distant future. We are working with the County to move in that direction so we will be ready when that time comes.
Hillier: Bonneville County is experiencing massive growth. We are one of the fastest growing counties in the state of Idaho. This rapid growth is placing a strain on county services. Experience, qualifications, and leadership are required to meet the demands of our growing community.
I am committed to making the coroner’s office a place where families get the death certificates of their loved ones in a timely manner. I am committed to use my training and expertise to thoroughly investigate the cause and manner surrounding someone’s death. I am committed to serve the citizens of Bonneville County by providing the tools and resources necessary for law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office to carry out their duties.
How will you best represent the views of your constituents – even those with differing political views?
Taylor: Fortunately, politics rarely comes into play while performing the duties of the Office of Coroner. We try to respect the views and needs of all those we serve.
Hillier: The coroner should serve apolitically. All constituents are created equal and deserve justice and compassion. Sometimes, the last investigation is the most important. My job, if elected, is to deliver accurate, high-quality services to all Bonneville County residents.
How can you encourage or improve relationships with cities and other municipal or educational entities within your jurisdiction?
Taylor: We try to serve the far reaches of our county with the same attitude of service that we give those within these city limits. We also try to take time to speak with local educational classes when asked to do so. This helps enlighten students to the aspects of our office.
Hillier: Did you know that current death investigations with no suspicion of foul play can occupy a local police officer for 4 or 5 hours? Other death investigations can take hundreds of hours to complete. Did you know that law enforcement can’t complete their investigation without notifying the coroner? I will respond to the scene promptly and work closely with our local police. I will eliminate inefficiencies and reduce wait times.
What are your views on local and state media organizations. As an elected official how would you work with the media to help inform the public?
Taylor: Our office is often contacted for information concerning a death in the county. If legally allowed, we always provide available information. If not possible, we let them know when and from whom the information they seek will be available.
Hillier: Local media plays a key role in informing the public. I believe government should be an open book and work hand-in-hand with the media. I will be open in communicating the roll and efforts of the coroners office.
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