In what was perhaps the most contentious race in the Aug. 2 Pettis County Primary Election, incumbent Coroner Robert “Skip” Smith was re-elected to office, defeating Republican challenger Dan Hankins with 3,172 votes to Hankins’ 2,323 votes.
With only two Republicans running for the office, the race was decided Tuesday and Smith will be the only coroner candidate on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.
“It’s been a long five months, very stressful,” Smith said. “I did my best to keep things positive. There was a lot of misinformation presented to the people of Pettis County.”
Smith said he is proud to continue to serve Pettis County and he will continue to be “the voice for people who die in Pettis County.”
Hankins said he was thankful for the opportunity to run for Pettis County Coroner.
“This election brought a lot of issues to life that needed to be addressed,” Hankins said. “I’m going to make sure that these issues are completed and will make sure accountability is served.”
Hankins said he would consider the possibility of running for the office in the future.
Hankins said in a previous interview with the Democrat that he sees a “large delay” in the issuance of death certificates and he believes “we can speed that up.”
Smith said in response to these issues that he has and will continue to “follow Missouri law.” Smith said in a previous interview with the Democrat that the coroner’s main responsibility is to determine the cause and manner of a death, especially on cases that are criminal, but also auto accidents and suicides.
“It’s critical to gather all the facts and investigate every aspect that you can,” he said. “The job of coroner doesn’t pay much and I do it for the love of the county.”
He said he will make some improvements to the office in communication and investigative techniques.
“In this office I will continue to be an advocate for people that die in this county,” he said.
Editor Tim Epperson can be reached at 660-530-0146.