Petrey misses role of helping people

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Demopolis Times

DEMOPOLIS – Chris Petrey spent four years in the U.S. Coast Guard and 10 years as a member of an ambulance service. It was a back injury in 2003 that drove him from his job as a civil servant.

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Since that time he has remained close to the medical field, working first for a hospice care center and currently as a community education director with Bryan W. Whitfield Hospital.

Now Petrey is vying for a different position: an elected one.

“I missed being in that role of helping people, of working directly with them and having an immediate impact on their lives,” Petrey told The Demopolis Times’ editorial board of his decision to run for coroner.

Petrey will face incumbent Coroner Stewart Eatmon on Nov. 7 in the general election. Eatmon is a Democrat. Petrey is running as an independent.

“When it was time to qualify, I was only about 95 percent sure I wanted to run,” Petrey said of his decision to run as an independent. “I wasn’t going to run until I was 100 percent sure.”

In the State of Alabama, coroners are charged with certifying the death of a deceased individual and making sure the death certificate required by the state Department of Public Health is correctly filled out.

Petrey points to changes in the law that make it time for a change in this office.

New state regulations governing the office of coroner will require office-holders to be a high school graduate, complete a 12-hour death investigation class, be 25 years of age and hold a one-year residency in the county they serve.

“People need to realize that to keep up with these regulations, we need someone new,” Petrey said.

Petrey points to the fact that incumbents will not be held to the same standards.

Eatmon could not be reached for comment as to whether or not he has completed the soon-to-be-required death certification course or if he plans to complete it if re-elected.

Petrey believes his medical training also will serve him better.

“My medical training of how the sytems of the body work and the effect of diseases on the body will be beneficial in the coroner’s position,” Petrey said in a release.

Petrey and his wife, Ashley, have three children, Bailey, 8; Macey, 7; and Davis, 5. Petrey transferred to Demopolis with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1991.

Editor’s Note: The Demopolis Times editorial board meets routinely with candidates, elected officials and civic leaders. Articles from these reports are published in the following weekend edition.