A Democrat and a Republican are vying to become the next York County Coroner as incumbent Republican Barry Bloss prepares to retire after 16 years.
Forensic nurse Pam Gay, who won the Republican primary, will square off against Democrat Kay Strausbaugh in the Nov. 5 contest for a four-year term investigating the county's sudden or suspicious deaths.
The two come from vastly different backgrounds and have differing visions for the office.
Gay has been a forensic nurse for 12 years, working at York Hospital for about the last two years, she said.
She also owns and operates Susquehanna Valley Medical Legal Consulting, through which she reviews charts and goes through records to condense them into briefs used in medical legal cases, she said.
Her vision for the office is to build on Bloss' four terms of work while enhancing the services already available.
Using volunteers: Gay wants to use "care and compassion" volunteers, training members of the community to accompany coroners when families are notified about deaths.
The volunteers could stay with family members and help them make difficult phone calls, connecting them with chaplains and other services, revisiting the family over the following weeks.
"It's been voiced to me over and over from different people who think we could be a little bit better with the sensitive and caring side," she said.
Gay said she works with victims of sexual assault, elder abuse and domestic violence as a nurse, and she would like to educate the community about those types of crimes and how to prevent them.
A member of the York County Suicide Prevention Coalition, she said she would focus on encouraging school administrators and others to talk about it more.
She would also like to improve the technology in the office, which doesn't currently have its own website.
She'd like to build a website where people can access information and documents such as death certificates.
Former EMT: Strausbaugh said she, if elected, would pull from her three years as an EMT in the late '80s and early '90s.
She also served as a medical abstracter for two years in the '90s, reviewing medical records through a government contract, she said.
Elected coroners must take a 40-hour course and pass it before serving as coroner, something she said she's confident she could do.
"I realize my experience compared to my opponent is not very much, but I still stepped out to do it," she said. "I definitely meet the minimum requirements because there are none, except to take this course."
Strausbaugh, who ran for coroner and dropped out for lack of support several years ago, said she was called to run for coroner again while she and her husband were on a recent road trip.
"I feel it's something that the Lord wanted me to do," she said. "Democracy is about choice, and sometimes that's limited for us Democrats in York."
If elected, Strausbaugh would maintain Bloss' efforts while focusing on suicide prevention and safe driving, she said.
She said guns and gang violence are deep concerns, and she hopes lawmakers tighten the regulations.
The coroner position pays about $74,000 per year.
PROFILE: PAM GAY
Home: Springettsbury Township
Education: Associate's degree in nursing from Wesley College, 1981; bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida in 1990.
Profession: Forensic nurse, business owner
PROFILE: KAY L. STRAUSBAUGH
Home: York Township
Education: Northeastern High School, Class of 1968; Adult Education class on medical terminology
Profession: Retired last December from the York County Assistance Office as a clerical worker.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.