Barry County Coroner Questionnaire: Gary Swearingen, Republican
1. Why do you want the position of coroner?
I feel it is my Christian duty to help other people and all of my life I have tried to put myself in positions where I can help others in any situation needed. When I was offered the opportunity almost 13 years ago to assist Jim Fohn, who was coroner, I saw another way to be available to help people in need. I was recently appointed by Governor Parson to hold the position of Barry County Coroner and I want to continue serving the great people of Barry County in this position.
2. What makes you more qualified than your opponents?
I would not say that I am more qualified than my opponents but I am JUST AS QUALIFIED as my opponents. I have the upmost respect for my opponents and I feel that my qualifications to hold this position is second to none considering the training that I have received. I have had the opportunity to assist or personally do whatever has been needed to fill this position for over 12 years with the professional training of the late Jim Fohn. If Jim Fohn and Governor Parson both felt like I have the qualifications for this position than yes, I know that I am qualified.
3. What types of training do you have that apply to the position?
This elected position is just like other elected positions in the county as far as training goes. The state training is NOT offered unless a person holds the title for that office, so therefore I have not attended state training since there has not been any training sessions offered since my appointment as Barry County Coroner by Governor Parson in September, 2020. After 12 years of on the job training while working with Jim Fohn and all of the knowledge that he had and taught me about the coroner position would be very compatible to any training sessions that are offered. No one can attend state training without holding the title of Barry County Coroner, but after elected I will attend state training as it is offered.
4. Do you have any experience in crime scene investigation?
The coroner is not a crime scene investigator. I was taught, observed and practiced under the guidance of the late Jim Fohn that after arriving at a death scene if there is no law enforcement at the location and as coroner you see or think that the situation looks criminal suspicious then you call the law enforcement officials and let them use their professional skills to do the ďcrime scene investigations.Ē
5. How will you determine which funeral home will take in deceased persons?
Which funeral home to take a deceased person to is not for a coroner to determine, that is strictly and positively up to the deceased persons family. If no family is present to make this decision at the current time needed then it is lawful to take the deceased person to the coronerís office until the family is notified, that allows them to make their personal decision. Then I will do as I was taught and oblige with compassion and kindness and meet their wishes.
6. How will you determine if an autopsy is needed?
In working a coroner call if a ďmanner of causeĒ of a death cannot be determined than that would be reason for an autopsy, so the reason of death can be determined.
7. Are you able to manage your time in a way to be available as needed during any hours?
Most definitely yes, as I am now doing this. I have been available 24/7, 365 days a year for over 12 years while working with and for the late Jim Fohn. Jim never hesitated to call and rely on me and in turn I never hesitated to be available at every call. I truly was honored to be ask to be Jimís Deputy Coroner and to have such a great mentor in serving the Great People of Barry County.
8. What changes do you plan to make to the office, if any?
Since I am currently holding the position of Barry County Coroner, I have no plans to change the office in any way. I will continue to serve the people of Barry County with honor and dignity. The late Jim Fohn ran a very professional office and my plans are to continue with this same professional way of showing kindness and compassion to everyone. As the old saying goes ďif itís not broke, donít fix itĒ and I donít feel that this operation is broken.
9. What would be your approach to delivering the news of a loved oneís death?
With my Christian upbringing I was taught to live by Godís word and love and have compassion for everyone. This teaching plays a big role in approaching a deceased persons family members. By showing Godís love of compassion, kindness and understanding in their loss and to offer by abilities to them in any way to try to help ease their pain at the most difficult time of their life is the way that I approach these situations.