Eagle County coroner incumbent Bettis wins | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County coroner incumbent Bettis wins

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily

Kara Bettis is still Eagle County's coroner.

In the local race that showed the sharpest elbows, Bettis topped challenger Sue Franciose.

Bettis, a Democrat, won election in 2002 over another deputy coroner and ran unopposed in 2006 and 2010.

"I'm thankful and honored that Eagle County has chosen me," Bettis said. "I appreciate all the support I have received over the last 12 years, and for all the years to come. I appreciate Sue for running and for the passion she has for the coroner's position."

Franciose, a Republican, served with former coroner Donna Barnes and as one of Bettis' deputy coroners for a year and a half until she resigned to help a friend battle cancer.

"I appreciate the opportunity of participating in the election process," Franciose said. "I respect the voters' choice and want to thank those who supported me."

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During the campaign debates, Franciose questioned Bettis' dedication to organ and tissue donation programs. Bettis countered that like most coroners across Colorado, she handles it through local hospitals.

The sharply worded debates in the race raised some eyebrows.

"I didn't like the attack ads that (Franciose) had," said Paul Bass, of Vail. "That's not how a coroner's race should be, so I voted for the incumbent."

Coroners are paid $44,500 annually. It is set by the state Legislature, and coroners probably won't be getting a raise in 2015.

Bettis has six deputies, and the office is on call 24/7 to ensure that response times to a death scene don't exceed an hour, according to her website. Bettis said she is involved in some way with every call her office makes — either responding and investigating a death or checking the report filed by a deputy.

She said she has become a professional at death investigations and has helped on some drastically varied cases, from airplane crashes and murders to bones found at a Vail construction site this summer to a double homicide in El Jebel in July.

As of February, her office had handled about 700 deaths during those 12 years.