One is the chief deputy coroner who has conducted dental identifications, and the other is a chiropractor who once was a reserve for the Allen County Sheriffs Department.
Voters will choose between Craig Nelson and Gary Washington for Allen County coroner in the May 8 Republican primary.
Incumbent Dr. E. Jon Brandenberger is not eligible to run for a third consecutive term due to term limits.
The four-year term pays an annual salary of $45,821, plus health insurance, retirement benefits and a county-owned vehicle.
Nelson, the countys chief deputy coroner, said the coroners office is one of the best in the state and he would not change anything but would strive to maintain the department as is.
This is a good system with well-trained staff, Nelson said. Allen County has been very lucky over the years to have such a well-run coroners office.
Nelson has been a dentist for 45 years and still maintains a part-time practice in LaGrange. A forensic odontologist, Nelson has for years been called on to conduct dental identifications throughout 15 counties in northeast Indiana.
In addition to identification through dental records, Nelson also investigates bite-mark evidence in cases of abuse and is a consultant for the Sexual Assault Treatment Center.
He also is the dental team leader of the portable morgue unit for the Indiana Mortuary Emergency Response Team, a division of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
The most important trait a coroner can possess is responsibility, Nelson said.
Its extremely important to take the responsibility of the office seriously when identifying victims and determining the cause and manner of death, Nelson said.
Washington, a chiropractor with a medical degree, is a former Cedar Creek Township trustee and former reserve officer for the Allen County Sheriffs Department.
In addition to his medical degree and law enforcement experience, Washington started out as a paramedic, working six years in a hospital emergency room in Detroit. His undergraduate degree is in human anatomy.
Washington grew up in Detroit where several members of his family, including his father, were police officers. Washington was deputized at age 19 and was a jail guard in downtown Detroit, he said.
After moving to Fort Wayne, he became a reserve officer but gave up that job to go to medical school.
He had a Fort Wayne chiropractic practice for years when he decided to go back to medical school at the age of 45 and become a physician. He graduated from the University of Health Sciences in Antigua in January 1996.
But before he could complete his residency, he broke his neck in a sporting accident that he said waylaid my plans and for that reason Washington does not practice medicine in Indiana or elsewhere.
Washington maintains his chiropractic practice on the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus. He thinks the office of coroner is the next logical step, given his background, experience and education, he said.
The high-profile job demands the person at the helm be professional and respectful, Washington said.
It would be very exciting to work as coroner, and I look forward to it, he said.
Norman Knuth, 60, is seeking the coroners job as a Democrat and is unopposed in that partys primary.
Knuth has been a deputy coroner in Clay County and is as a funeral director and embalmer for Dignity Memorial Group.